05/06/11 — Smith lifts Princeton

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Smith lifts Princeton

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 6, 2011 1:47 PM

Sooner or later, someone had to pull the trigger.

"Why not me?" thought Linda Smith.

She's glad she did.

The Princeton High freshman notched the game-winning goal around the 68th minute in a 1-0 triumph over Carolina 1-A Conference archrival Rosewood on Thursday evening. The Dawgs earned a share of the regular-season championship along with Goldsboro High, which shut out Spring Creek.

If the Eagles win today, they'll create a three-way tie for the conference crown. Since all three teams split their regular-season meetings with each other, they'll draw numbers from a hat later today to determine seedings for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

"We come in with a conference championship in our grasp on Monday (and) by tonight, we've put ourselves in position for a draw out of the hat," said Rosewood coach Ryan Wells, exasperated from the one-goal defeat.

The Eagles (6-5-2 overall, 3-2-0 CC) attempted 27 shots in a shocking shutout loss against Goldsboro on Tuesday, and fired off another 15 against a determined Dogs defense.

None found the net.

"Possession was equal, we ran our system well, but we just didn't finish with opportunities in front of the net against a great keeper (Amber Brush) that Princeton has," said Wells. "When you have opportunities, you've got to take advantage of them. We just didn't do it."

Brush logged eight saves for Princeton, which collected its second league championship in the past three seasons. Rosewood, which has either won outright or shared five of the past six conference titles, endured just its fourth league defeat in its last 17 outings.

The Dogs' back four of sweeper Hattie Doherty, Sarah Toler, Lauren Woodard and Harlie Silvernail played superb defense. Doherty, Woodard and Toler constantly hounded Eagles sharp-shooter Logan Bill, who never got a clean shot on goal in the 80-minute affair.

"This game, we did a very good job of containing Logan," said Princeton head coach Eusebio Montoya. "None of my girls really could keep up with her, but if one of my girls got beat, another was there to step up. That was a key to keeping a clean sheet today.

"Logan is a great soccer player and any room you give her, she's going to shoot."

Bill attempted 13 shots, but just two on frame.

Princeton (5-6-2, 3-2-0) added a third midfielder for the second half and the strategy helped create Smith's goal. Rosewood let Smith drift toward the right side unmarked defensively, and her shot outside the 18 hit the upper right corner of the net.

"I was in the middle, I was dribbling and thinking I've got to take a shot ... there is no other time," said Smith. "So I just went ahead and shot it, and it happened to go in. (The goal) boosted our confidence and I saw on everybody's face, they had this glow about them.

"We knew because of that goal Rosewood was going to push twice as hard just to try to get one in, so we had to go (defensively) and contain it."

It was Smith's second career goal.

"Everybody in our conference knows we mark up through the midfield," said Wells. "We had a girl running free one time all night. She did an excellent job of recognizing it and hammering it home. They took advantage of the one breakdown we had."

Bill's shot in the 73rd minute deflected off Doherty and into Brush's gloves. Her shot in the 77th minute off a cross from Marissa Hill sailed wide of the post.