10/10/12 — Saints stay in hunt for soccer playoff berth

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Saints stay in hunt for soccer playoff berth

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on October 10, 2012 1:48 PM

Southern Wayne was in must-win mode at the Little Big Horn.

Following two tough Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference losses, the Saints saw their potential state playoff hopes beginning to slip away. They rallied for a 4-1 victory over Eastern Wayne and took a big step in the right direction on Tuesday night.

"This was a game we definitely needed to win," Southern Wayne head coach Mario Aguilar said. "Coming into tonight we were in fourth place so we could not afford another loss."

Eastern Wayne helped their rivals' cause with an own goal in the 15th minute. Southern Wayne forward Cesar Benitez hit a shot that glanced off a Warrior defender and redirected into the net.

"We gave away a goal early and it hurt for sure," Eastern Wayne head coach Jorg Wagner said. "An own goal put us down 1-0 and it gave Southern Wayne the momentum."

Eastern Wayne took the momentum back in the 26th minute when a clearing attempt by the Saints skipped past the keeper and rolled right to on-coming Ethan Zadrozny, who fired a shot into the empty net to tie the game.

Southern Wayne (8-6-1 overall, 5-4-0 ECC) regained the lead in the 33rd minute when Benitez found the back of the net off a rebound. Benitez, in the 37th minute, put the Saints ahead 3-1 with a goal off of Victor Valazquez' assist.

Benitez completed his hat trick (three goals) in the 39th minute off an assist from Billy Gonzales.

"That has seemed to be the story of our year," Wagner said. "We play a team even for most of the night, but a stretch of 10 bad minutes leads to disaster. Giving up three goals in seven minutes is too big of a hole to climb out of."

The Saints were perfectly content with playing a defensive game in the second half and protecting their lead. Each team tallied two shots after the intermission, but none of those attempts found the mark.

"At halftime I told the team I wanted to see better passing and better ball movement," Aguilar said. "I thought we did a pretty good job moving the ball and we didn't have any major breakdowns."

Southern Wayne plays host to South Johnston tonight, while Eastern Wayne (2-11-0, 0-9-0) is the guest of Charles B. Aycock.