Upper-Level Soccer: Cyclones Roar to Win Over Force Premier
It's crunch time for upper-level soccer. Some teams put the finishing touches on the season this weekend and the rest will wrap up the season in one more week.
The Sandhills Cyclones roared back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Fayetteville Force Premier in a 6-2 U13 Classic clash last Saturday at Morganton Road.
The Cyclones jumper to an early lead when Kathryn Palmer ripped a cross from the right side to Keegan Lynch, who netted the goal in the fourth minute.
Fayetteville caught up in the 10th minute, then struck again just before the half, leaving the Cyclones trailing 2-1 at the midpoint.
Another Palmer cross set the scene for Lauren Hanson's equalizer four minutes into the second half. Five minutes later, Hanson dropped back to Lynch, who beat a path up the middle and launched the tiebreaker into the left corner of the net.
Holding on to a 3-2 lead, the Cyclones orchestrated a devastating attack that utilized effective transitions out of the defensive third and a collection of perfect combinations that produced three more goals before the final whistle.
Nineteen minutes into the period, Lynch dropped from center to Megan Thomas as she closed in from 25 yards out. Thomas put boot to ball and dropped the long bomb into the upper-right corner for the score.
Four minutes later, Jennie Cunningham pressed down the left side and passed to Hanson, who made a quick cut then threaded the needle between the keeper and near post to give the Cyclones a comfortable 5-2 advantage.
The Cyclones capped the match when Colleen Kaiser got the last touch on Maddie Kramer's left to right through pass and re-routed it into the net.
For the Cyclones it was one of their best performances, a total team effort. Jordan Bridgman went the distance in the goal behind a strong defense that included Hailey Crider, Allyson Parziale, Keegan Cary, Jessie Wilson and Brittany Keyser.
Offensively, six goals makes a strong statement, a statement that underscored the forward play of Palmer, Lynch, Hanson, Kaiser and Riley Hasson in combination with the coordinated midfield pressure delivered by Katie Kearns, Heather Brock, Kramer and Cunningham.
Sandhills Shock/Sandhills Celtic
Sandhills Shock claimed bragging rights in an intraleague match that pitted a pair of Sandhills Youth Soccer League U10 Challenge teams on the Morganton Road fields last Sunday when it edged Sandhills Celtic 4-3.
The teams traded licks through the first period playing to a 2-2 deadlock.
Christopher Masar put Shock on the board at the 10-minute mark with an assist from Davis McGuirt.
Celtic fired back five minutes later on a solo strike by Chase Nelsen.
Kyle Corbett capitalized on a Celtic foul in the 23rd minute, edging Shock ahead 2-1.
Shock's lead stood only for a couple of minutes before Zach Martinez grabbed Gates Moore's cross and booted the equalizer to knot the match at 2-all after one half of play.
The tug-o-war resumed as the second period got under way. Shock wasted no time asserting itself as Matthew Fedder corralled a pass from teammate Hunter Hawes and recouped the lead in the first minute.
Zach Martinez picked up the gauntlet for Celtic in the eighth minute, driving for his second goal of the day to deadlock the match once again.
As time started to become scarce, Corbett fed Hawes, who kicked the clincher, to put Shock ahead 4-3 with the clock down to single digits.
A Shock foul in the waning minutes presented Celtic with a final shot at pulling even, but Shock keeper Jack Hoy stood his ground as Celtic fell short.
Sandhills Fierce burned the Fuquay-Varina Athletic Association White Flames 4-2 last Sunday in a U10 Challenge road match rescheduled from earlier in the season.
Fierce scored first when Olivia McKinney lofted a free kick over the Flames' keeper from outside the 18.
The axe cut both ways, however, as the Flames connected on a direct kick from a dozen yards out to lock the match at 1-1 at the intermission.
Fierce took charge three minutes into the final period regaining the lead when Brianna Embler sneaked a shot in from directly in front of the goal.
An unintended assist gave Fierce another point a minute later when a Fuquay player knocked in the ball, while attempting to defuse Chloe Hoffman and Rae Nunez' attack in the mouth of the goal.
Fuquay threatened with another goal early in the second half, pulling with one at 3-2, but Fierce answered when McKinney grabbed her own rebound following a free kick, posting the insurance goal that secured the match at 4-2.
Long weekends are good, especially with a double dose of victory. That was the story for the Sandhills Vipers last weekend when they plucked a pair of big wins in Apex, taking Carolina Classic White 4-1 on Saturday, and then returning Sunday to defeat Carolina Classic Blue 5-2 in U12 Classic competition.
The Vipers took control in the first half against Carolina Classic's White squad when Adam Howard broke down the right side, drawing the Classic keeper out from the box and opening the door for the arc shot over his head and into the goal.
White answered quickly with a goal that evened the score at 1-all. The Vipers had a quick reply five minutes later when Drew Phillips sent a pass from the midfield to John Roger Moore, who dribbled down the center and launched a low burner that caught the right corner for the score.
Jake Harbeck spread the gap just before halftime when he gathered a punt near the 18 and fired a shot to the left corner, giving the Vipers a 3-1 edge at the break.
Solid defensive effort from Jeffrey Masar and Dakota Chavis blunted Carolina White's efforts to recover in the second period.
Garrett Klumpar added some icing to the cake in the final minute, completing Chris Broughton's corner kick as it rebounded off the post to make the final score 4-1.
Sunday's match with CC Blue replayed much of the previous day's action. Once again Howard got the first strike for the Vipers with another chip over the keeper for the score. Moore dribbled and shot, creasing the left top 90 for the second score, putting the Vipers in front 2-0 after the first period of play.
The Blue team, bitten but not yet beaten, slipped in a pair of points early in the second half to even the match at 2-2. But the Vipers coiled and struck three times in a five-minute stretch to erase any chance of a Blue comeback.
Harbeck started the scoring blitz, firing from the right wing with an assist from Klumpar. Three minutes later, Phillips took a position in the left corner and tapped in a cross from Corey Efird. Harbeck completed the run that he had started five minutes earlier when he volleyed Moore's cross into the net for the wrap-up point, rounding out a 5-2 Viper win.
Sandhills Chaos evened its record at 3-3 with a convincing 2-0 win over Triangle United Soccer Association Celtic in U13 Challenge play at Morganton Road.
Chaos controlled the offensive third in the first period without producing any points, leaving the score tied nil-nil at halftime.
In the second half, forward Brittany Ritter played the ball across the box from the right sideline to Alison Miriello, waiting near the post for the chip shot to break the scoring drought.
Moments later Ritter delivered the ball to center forward Kristin Phelps, as she closed in from 20 yards out. Phelps beat the last defender and nested the ball in the back of the net to give Chaos a 2-0 advantage that carried them to the finish.
Goalkeeper Callie Collins earned the shutout for Chaos.
Sandhills Rush fired a three-point barrage that blasted Triangle United Soccer Association Arsenal 5-2 in last week's U11 Challenge clash at Morganton Road.
Stephen Sawyer found his way down the middle, then fired off the right side for a Rush goal in the opening minutes. Connor Hees followed with a second piece, gained with an assist from Matt Epley.
A pair of TUSA goals locked the match in a 2-2 standoff at the break, but Rush closed the door on the Arsenal and lit a three-point fuse in the second half.
When Alex Kim laid a throw-in toward the goal all it took was a short dribble and a shot from Gerado Peraza to put Rush out front.
Zack Eiserman's pass to the middle set Epley in motion down the middle all the way to the goal for another score.
Another Eiserman feed went to the same spot, this time to Peraza, who drove for the final goal and the 5-2 win for Rush.
Caelan Kohut got his first start in the goal for Rush, recording three saves. Hees shared the duty with Kohut in the second half.
Sandhills Ajax hit some obstacles in last weekend's U14 Classic competition, battling to a scoreless tie on the road against Futbol Club Carolina Alliance White, then slipping to Guilford United Soccer Club United Red in a close 2-1 contest.
Ajax made the trip to Franke Liske Park in Concord Saturday looking for a win over Carolina Alliance White to bolster its second-place standing in the Piedmont Second Division. In the end, both teams left empty-handed, in what can only be described as a defensive duel that ended in a nil-nil draw.
Hoping for better results the next day on its home pitch, Ajax got off to a good start, scoring on a Walter Mejia penalty kick. But it only takes one goal to win, and on this day that goal belonged to GUS United Red as it edged Ajax 2-1.
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