Young Eastern plays strong first half against Golden Demons
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on August 20, 2008 1:46 PM
Eastern Wayne didn't get the result it wanted against second-ranked Wilson Fike, but it got a 40-minute half to build on.
The Warriors scored a late first-half goal, but lost their legs in the second half. The 1-1 halftime draw turned into a 4-1, non-conference loss on Tuesday evening.
Fike dominated possession early on and created frequent scoring opportunities. David Gibbons clanged a shot off the post in the 15th minute before Eastern Wayne began to muster some offense of its own.
The Warriors (0-1 overall) created corner kick opportunities in both the 18th and 19th minutes, but had just one shot on goal as a result.
Gibbons found teammate Cory Autry with a leading pass in the 24th minute that Autry tucked in the left corner of the goal to put Fike ahead 1-0. The Golden Demons (1-0 overall) managed 10 shots on goal in the opening 40 minutes.
Eastern Wayne answered in the 31st minute as Nick Bowden's long bending shot from outside the box found the back of the net. The Warriors shook off their first-game rust and settled in after yielding the early goal.
"I think we have some stuff we can build on," said Warriors head coach Jorg Wagner. "It has a lot to do with gaining confidence. I know state rankings are based on what was there last year. You're actually playing against a different team but the boys don't realize that.
"Once you hold them off for 10 or 15 minutes you start gaining confidence. I thought the young guys did a really nice job in the first half."
Fike struck just seven minutes into the second half when John Michael Sykes received a pass and slipped through the Eastern Wayne defense before beating keeper Josh Olmsted for a 2-1 advantage. Gibbons extended the margin to 3-1 in the 51st minute after making a long run with the ball at his feet before scoring. The Demons also had a pair of shots rattle the post in the second half.
Autry capped Fike's scoring in the 80th minute.
"We worked on staying compact defensively and shifting assignment and the zone defense," said Wagner. "Playing the system that we play is difficult when you have a lot of new players. All three of our central midfielders are brand new to the varsity level.
"We worked on it in practice but it's a bit different when all the sudden you have to do it at pace against a team like Fike."
Eastern Wayne's inability to score in the second half wasn't for lack of opportunities or possession. More often than not crossing passes appeared to be a second late or find nothing but green grass on the other end rather than a teammate.
"Definitely in the second half we could tell our deficit in fitness," said Wagner. "In the second half if you don't have the gas left, it's hard to open up and make yourself available. A couple of times we got the odd cross in but then on the far end there was nobody there because the outside midfielders are not fit to do so much work.
"We were limited at that position tonight. I think with another week of practice we can raise our fitness level. We have more talent this year than I thought we would have."
Olmsted finished with 11 saves in goal for the Warriors.
Eastern Wayne visits North Lenoir at 7 p.m. next Tuesday.
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