05/05/11 — E. Wayne-Cleveland soccer

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E. Wayne-Cleveland soccer

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 5, 2011 1:48 PM

Eastern Wayne had the will.

Miller Delbridge found the way.

The senior striker converted the game-winning penalty kick in the 67th minute, and the Warriors dumped Cleveland, 2-0, in semifinal-round play of the 2011 Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference girls' soccer tournament Wednesday evening.

Second-seeded Eastern Wayne (11-5-0 overall) travels to reigning ECC regular-season champion Charles B. Aycock on Friday. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Hardy Talton Stadium in Pikeville.

"Right off the bat we did not go to the ball strong enough," said Warriors head coach Jorg Wagner. "Cleveland tried to be a ball-possession team. I don't think, overall, they don't have the quality of an Aycock or South Johnston, to me, to play that type of game.

"For us to force an early decision was to send people, and press and press. We would do okay on the first touch, and after that we would just let things go. As the game went on, it got more frustrating for our players to find the net."

And nerve racking, especially when Cleveland appeared to notch the game's first goal in the ninth minute. The third-seeded Rams (9-8-1) drew a foul near midfield and their indirect free kick sailed into the upper corner of the net.

The midfield referee waved off the goal and said that a Cleveland player never touched the ball. The Warrior bench exhaled a huge sigh of relief.

"It could have easily gone the other way early on if the free kick had been given that went in on the no touch," said Wagner. "We had the will, we just couldn't find the way early on."

Ann Reed Hulse's shot clanged off the right post in the 38th minute.

Eastern Wayne keeper Erica Duke (three saves) stopped Cleveland's Courtney Morris one-on-one in the 46th minute. Duke took a hard hit to the face, but recovered to help preserve the Warriors' 10th shutout of the season.

Hulse just missed converting a cross from Delbridge in the 51st minute and the Eastern Wayne defense cleared a dangerous corner kick just two minutes later.

Rams keeper Monique Torres (three saves) denied Delbridge a PK in the 57th minute after Lindsay Underwood drew a hard foul inside the 6-yard box. Delbridge converted two PKs in Tuesday's opening-round tournament victory over North Lenoir.

"I think we got plenty of half chances, but really only three chances," said Wagner.

With 13 minutes to go in regulation, Hulse dribbled into the box and earned a hard foul to force another PK. This time Delbridge tucked the ball into the lower right corner to put the Warriors in front, 1-0.

Delbridge added an insurance goal in the final 10 seconds.

"Miller being able to shake off her first penalty miss, that's great leadership," said Wagner. "Then, of course, even taking the last ball with 10 seconds to go and still wanting to put one in. I was pleased with our overall effort."