11/03/11 — Riverside-Princeton soccer

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Riverside-Princeton soccer

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 3, 2011 1:56 PM

PRINCETON -- Soccer is often a lesson in physical education class.

But Princeton was more interested in history Wednesday night.

The Bulldogs scored twice in the first half held on for a 3-2 victory over Riverside Martin in the opening round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A boys' soccer playoffs.

It is the first-ever postseason win in program history.

"I am so proud of this team for coming out tonight and playing to win," Princeton head coach Trent Heil said. "They all wanted to be the first group to make a run in the playoffs and tonight we took the first step."

Princeton (5-11-2 overall) travels to four-time defending Carolina 1-A Conference champion -- and league rival -- Spring Creek on Friday. Kickoff is 6 p.m. at "The Swamp."

The Dogs left no doubt who the better team was on Wednesday.

In the sixth minute, a mistake by the Riverside defense led to a Princeton goal. Vincente Mendez fired a corner kick into the 18-yard box. Tyler Daniels got a shot off that hit a Knight defender and ricocheted into the net.

Princeton added to its lead in the 28th minute when Mendez belted home a rebound and made the score 2-0.

"I thought the first half was probably the best we have played all season" Heil said. "I think (Riverside's) keeper had some trouble adjusting to the ball being wet and cold, and we were able to get a couple by him that maybe he would have saved on a normal night."

Riverside cut into the lead in the second half when Will Gurganus collected a loose ball and fired a shot under a diving keeper.

Princeton answered in the 73rd minute when Daniels collected a pass from Mendez and beat a defender for a 3-1 lead.

The Knights got a second goal in the 80th minute when Ryan Joyner found a bouncing ball in the middle of the field and fired a shot into the top corner of the net.

"I think that playing a team that is about on the same level as us talent-wise was good for us," Heil said. "We had a nice lead there, before we let in that late goal, but all-in-all I was pleased with our play."

Princeton finished the game with a 10-7 advantage in shots on goal. Bulldog keeper Zach Parker finished with five saves.