03/18/09 — Chargers warm up

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Chargers warm up

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 18, 2009 1:47 PM

Wayne Country Day launched its 2009 girls' soccer campaign in vengeful fashion on a cold and breezy Tuesday afternoon.

But the Chargers needed 40 minutes to get warmed up.

After a jittery opening half, No. 1-ranked Wayne Country Day erupted for three second-half goals in a seven-minute span and dispatched Faith Christian-Rocky Mount 4-1. It was a rematch of last year's semifinal-round playoff game won by the Patriots.

It was also the Coastal Plains Independent 1-A Conference opener for both teams.

"It was clear to everyone watching that we weren't gelling with each other," said second-year WCDS head coach Baron Heinemann.

The Chargers (1-0-0, 1-0-0 CPIC) lacked imagination on offense, struggled with communication and permitted their lone goal on a defensive lapse.

Wayne Country Day broke the scoreless tie midway through the opening half. Senior Brooke Norris, one of 10 returning starters, dribbled into the teeth of the Patriots' defense and drew keeper Katie Brandt off her line.

Norris delivered a one-touch pass to Danielle Holland, who tucked the ball away inside the left post for the 1-0 lead.

"Danielle played her best game yet," said Heinemann. "I was proud of her first goal and the chances she created numerous times (during the match)."

The Patriots (2-1-0, 0-1-0) responded two minutes later on a corner kick. The primary shot sailed over keeper Ellen Elmore's head and deflected off a WCDS defender. Shannon Porter collected the loose ball and fired a goal-scoring shot toward the back post for the 1-1 tie.

Heinemann spoke briefly at halftime about the offense funneling to the middle of the field and not using the width to spread the Patriots' defense, which would create better passing lanes. He encouraged the defense to tighten its belt and stressed communication, especially in the midfield.

The advice proved fruitful.

Wayne Country Day dominated possession, dictated the tempo and created two goals five minutes into the second half.

Kim Martell's corner kick landed at Norris' feet, who easily converted the pass into a goal. A couple of possessions later, Norris delivered a through ball to freshman forward Mack Thompson, who easily beat her defender for the goal.

"The first goals were well-earned and eloquently finished," said Heinemann. "I was quite pleased that once again we didn't have a breakout star. Three people scored and each one did so with a smart, well-earned shot."

The Chargers added an "own" goal to conclude the scoring on a soggy, slippery pitch.

Heinemann praised the effort of Norris and freshman Catherine Ford, who orchestrated play from the midfield. The duo silenced Patriots senior Kaitlyn Blalock with their intensity and passing.

Elmore logged six saves in goal.

"Ellen had a very strong game," said Heinemann. "She showed true leadership and poise, which is exactly what we need from our goalie at the start of the season.

"Despite the slow, yet understandable start, the girls performed wonderfully and proved their capabilities (today). It's going to be a fun season."

Wayne Country Day returns to action Monday at county archrival Wayne Christian. Kickoff is 4:30 p.m.