Princeton shuts out North Johnston
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 21, 2009 1:50 PM
PRINCETON -- Madison Parker raced toward a loose ball and nearly lost her footing on the rain-slickened turf as the second half started Monday evening.
Just as the Princeton sophomore got a touch on the ball, North Johnston sweeper LeAnne Birdsall attempted a slide tackle from behind inside the 18-yard box. Birdsall and Parker collided, which resulted in a foul and subsequent penalty kick.
"Very tough," said North Johnston head coach Stacey Tant of the early second-half misfortune.
Dawgs senior Morgan Brush tucked away the PK shot into the lower left corner and Princeton hung on for a 1-0 victory at the Fred Bartholomew Athletic Complex.
"I think we escaped tonight," said Princeton head coach Tim Besel. "Wining on a PK ... you hate losing on something like that and you don't like winning on it, either. You hope to be able to put another one in the net.
"But we'll take a 'W' whenever we can."
Princeton (8-3-0 overall) claimed its Carolina 1-A Conference opener and handed North Johnston its third consecutive shutout loss against a Johnston County opponent. The Panthers (7-5-0, 0-1-0) have been shut out four times this season.
The Dawgs kept North Johnston goalie Sarah Anderson busy with a 19-shot effort, but couldn't produce a goal in the flow of play. Anderson finished with 10 saves on the slippery pitch.
Besel's club misfired on seven corner kicks.
Anderson recorded two glove saves against Princeton's Olivia Booker and Brush, who each attempted point-blank shots on goal in the opening half. The duo tried to score again just before intermission, but Anderson thwarted that try as well.
"We've done everything well, except pull the trigger," said Besel. "That's what we need to work on and that's in the plan for our (practice) session tomorrow ... firing at the net."
Brush converted the penalty shot 97 seconds into the second half and the Dawgs played strong defense the remainder of the contest. The Panthers notched six second-half shots on goal and attempted three corner kicks, but came up empty on each occasion.
Princeton keeper Amber Brush, a sophomore, collected three saves -- including two in the final two minutes. The Panthers' Christi Mileski rifled a shot off the near post that Brush smothered just inches short of the goal line.
"I was holding my breath for a little bit there, but I have a lot of confidence in my defense particularly our sweeper (Hattie Dougherty) and keeper who take care of business back there," said Besel.
North Johnston has surrendered a combined 14 goals in losses to county rivals West Johnston, Clayton and Princeton. The Panthers endured their first road defeat of the season in four tries.
Tant, a former All-American at Barton College, urged her team to increase its level of play in the second half.
"I'll take the last 20 (minutes) any day," said Tant. "If you come out firing like that from the beginning, you set yourself up for a 3-0 game in our favor. We dominated the last 20 minutes, but I told the girls we can't just sit back for 60 minutes because no one is going to give you anything.
"You have to come out ready to play."
The archrivals continue conference play Wednesday. North Johnston entertains Rosewood (6-5-0), while Princeton travels to Spring Creek (2-5-0). Each match kicks off at 7 p.m.
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