Upper-Level Soccer Teams on Roll
It's already mid-season for upper-level soccer squads, and if there was an interim report card, Sandhills Youth Soccer League teams would be bringing home high marks, with several teams at the top of their classes and all teams doing well.
Sandhills Thunder rolled over Triangle Futbol Club Clash in a 4-0 perfect storm that boosted its season standing to 4-0 in a U11 Classic romp at Morganton Road.
Carie Driver launched a free kick from 30 yards out that sailed in over Clash defenders and keeper to rip the top left corner of the net and set the course for Thunder in the 22nd minute.
But it was in the second half that the cloud darkened over the Clash. When McKenzie Reed threaded her way down the right side past a pair of defenders to blast a shot past the keeper from close range it was 2-0 with less than a minute elapsed in the period. Four minutes later Abbie Crider took Driver's throw-in deep in TFC territory and swept past TFC's vulnerable right side on a bee line to the net, stretching the lead to 3-0. Crider capped the scoring when she picked up a pass from Reed inside the 18, drew a bead and fired for the 4-0 final. In a lop-sided match that made light work for keeper Joeanna Kelly,
They say that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. If that's true, then Sunday's U13 Classic duel with the New Bern Area Soccer Association Coastal United was a ringer for the Sandhills Cyclones. Three previous matches with a tough United squad had been close leaners, but the Cyclones had fallen short each time.
But it's a new season, and last Sunday's match belonged to the Cyclones, who enjoyed a 3-1 victory on the home turf at Morganton Road.
Madison Kramer scored on the rebound when Kathryn Palmer unleashed a bullet that hit the crossbar and bounced Kramer's way for the follow up. Defending a 1-0 midpoint advantage, the Cyclones increased its lead half way through the second period when Keegan Lynch lofted a free kick from 30 yards out that exceeded the keeper's grasp and settled into the left corner of the net. Five minutes later Lynch teed up a corner kick to set the stage for Megan Thomas to step in and connect for the point.
The win was a showcase effort for the Cyclones, demonstrating how the players are realizing their roles. Jennie Cunningham and Kramer turned in strong performances at midfield in front of some top-notch defense by Keegan Cary and Allyson Parziale, who continue to display finesse in the transition game. Brittany Keyser and Jessie Wilson completed the defensive line at the fullback slots. Jordan Bridgman had a full day in the goal, recording 8 saves and only allowing one goal for the day.
The Cyclones improve to 2-1-1.
Sandhills Rush came under attack in a 6-0 loss to Triangle United Soccer Association Arsenal in last Sunday's U11 Challenge match at Morganton Road.
Rush trailed by a goal at the break, but a 1-0 deficit ballooned in the second period under pressure from an Arsenal ambush that tagged the home team for five goals. Connor Hees and Stephen Sawyer doubled up in the goal for 10 saves. The Rush is now 1-1-2.
Sandhills Shock got a boot on the ball five more times than Fayetteville Force United with an 18-13 shot advantage, but it's the ones that go into the net that count, and that's where Shock came up short in a 2-0 loss in U10 play at home on Sunday.
It was the first mark in the "L" column for Shock, setting their record at 3-1. Jack Hoy did full-time duty in the goal for Shock, recording 11 saves for the day.
Sandhills Speed silenced East Wake Arsenal 2-1 in a U13 Challenge contest last Sunday in Wendell. Speed took charge in the first half when Michael Adams found the net with the help of a Nick Leonard delivery. Jack Rice closed out the period with an unassisted goal that gave Speed a comfortable 2-0 margin at the midpoint.
East Wake threatened in the second half, cutting into the lead, but Speed held on to take the match 2-1. J.T. Stilwell and Michael Adams split the goalkeeping assignment, with each keeper earning four saves.
Sandhills Celtic had points to spare against Scotland Youth Soccer Association's Claymores with a 5-1 win played in Laurinburg two weeks ago, but ran short in last Sunday's 3-2 loss to SYSA Claymores Plaid on the Morganton Road fields.
In the earlier match, Chase Nelson initiated the scoring with a solo score in the first half, and then opened up the second period with another goal scored with an assist from Hector Cuevas. Jonah Saunders, Zach Martinez and Cuevas knocked in one apiece to run Celtic's total to 5-1. Sam Kruyer manned the goal with relief from Nelsen for a total eight saves. Defenders Christopher and Gates Moore paced the defensive effort that held the Claymores to nine shots and a single goal.
A week later the Claymores proved to be a bigger obstacle than the previous Scotland encounter. Once again, Nelsen was first to the mark for Celtic, scoring in the first period. Alfredo Quiros retrieved a corner kick and converted to give Celtic a 2-1 edge at the intermission, but a Plaid penalty kick in the second stanza evened the match at 2-2. A Claymore point late in the game left Celtic in the hole as the match ended. Celtic is 2-2-0 at midseason.
Sandhills Fierce bounced back from a loss to the Fuquay-Varina Red Flames by snuffing the FVAA White Flames 3-2 in U10 Challenge play on last Sunday at Morganton Road.
A week of hard preparation exploded in the first minute when Brianna Embler blazed through the White Flame defense to rip the net in the first minute and put Fierce up 1-0. A 14-shot barrage from Sydnie Kavanaugh, Rae Nunez. Chloe Hoffman and Embler, but failed to produce additional points for the Fierce. The Flames flared again at the 10-minute mark with a strike that knotted the score at 1-1. Fierce regained the lead when Olivia McKinney pulled the trigger on a shot deflected by the Flames keeper then rebounded off a knee into the goal by Chloe Hoffman.
Fierce defenders Conner Frye, Alyssa Stroker, and McKinney set a defensive wall that appeared impenetrable, but the Flames found a crack 16 minutes into the second half and slipped in the equalizer to tie the match at 2-all. With eight minutes to play, it was Embler who finished the game the way it started, with a solo jaunt through the defense to punch in the game winner and give Fierce the 3-2 win. Fierce is now 3-1-0.
Sandhills Ajax hit a bump on the road that put a dent in its unblemished season record, dropping a close 2-1 match to undefeated Jamestown Soccer Club Gold in last Saturday's U14 Classic clash in High Point.
Ajax got on the board quickly on a play that started with an Allen Cha cross. Balyn Krout got a boot on Cha's pass and converted the play to put Ajax ahead in the first 10 minutes. Jamestown responded before the period ended to knot the score at 1-all at the break.
Ajax goalkeeper David Alphin dug in to hold off Jamestown, and as time ticked away, it appeared that both teams might remained undefeated. But a late Jamestown goal beat the whistle, leaving Ajax with a 4-1-0 record.
A 2-0 win against Wilson Phoenix boosted Sandhills Storm to .500 for the season with a 2-2-0 record in U13 Classic competition.
Storm lead 1-0 at halftime, thanks to an own goal scored when Hayden Little's cross from the right side was headed into the Storm goal by a Phoenix defender. Storm picked up the second goal the old fashioned way when Dane Nelsen picked up a pass from Barrett at the defensive line, then beat the final Phoenix defender to deliver the shot. Justin Mace did full-time duty in the goal for Storm with four saves recorded.
Storm is now 2-2-0.
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