03/17/17 — GIRLS' SOCCER: Barnes' hat trick paces Chargers' offense

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GIRLS' SOCCER: Barnes' hat trick paces Chargers' offense

By Ben Coley
Published in Sports on March 17, 2017 9:57 AM


Wayne Country Day head coach Steve Ellis constantly urged his girls to "press high."

The strategy -- similar to a half-court press in basketball -- applies pressure near an opponent's goal and forces mistakes.

The frenzied defense opened up opportunities for the Chargers, and lifted them to a 4-0 victory over Coastal Plains Independent 1-A Conference foe Community Christian on Thursday afternoon.

Ellis said the team used the same defensive pressure in their opening game against Faith Christian of Rocky Mount last Friday. The Chargers won that game 5-0.

"The first half was great," Ellis said. "We pressed high, and it's something we've been working on this season. It takes a little bit of energy so we had to dial it down and switch a few things in the second half, but I was really pleased in the first half."

The main beneficiary of WCDS' aggressive defense was sophomore captain Langley Barnes. In the seventh minute, the young striker found room from 25 yards out and slammed it past Community's goalkeeper.

Twenty-nine minutes later, Barnes received a pass from Kathryn Hamilton, and slipped a diagonal shot into the net.

Barnes capped her day with a strike just outside the 16-yard box in the 61st minute.

"(Barnes') second goal was really good," Ellis said. "She powered through from a tight angle. Probably her best strike of the three (goals). That's what she's capable of. And hopefully she'll stay injury free and keep scoring and push it on a little bit."

Hayden Nielsen scored the Chargers' fourth goal in the 78th minute.

During the times that Wayne Country Day's "press high" strategy didn't work, goalkeeper Jala Holloman was there to stuff Community's shooting chances. The fiesty sophomore tallied nine saves and posted her second consecutive shutout of the season.

"I know (Jala's) a big basketball player, as well," Ellis said. "So the movement and the hand-eye coordination all plays a part of it. She's just athletic. She wants to push herself and pushes the team. She'll be a big part of the season."

Ellis said that on paper, Community may be the team to beat in the conference. However, games against rival Greenfield will still have the rivalry factor.

The veteran coach believes the chance for a conference title is there if the Chargers want it.

"This was a really positive step," Ellis said. "If we can push for a conference title, that would be great. We had two players missing today, and one was a starter. So we're young, but we're putting in the work."