Upper-Level Soccer Hits Full Stride
Spring doesn't officially arrive for three more weeks, but the spring Classic and Challenge soccer schedules will be at the midpoint by then.
Sandhills Youth Soccer League has 19 Classic and Challenge league teams that will be on the pitch at the Morganton Road Soccer Complex and on the road at fields around the state from now until May.
The spring season has barely started and Sandhills Thunder U11 girls' Classic club has already played a marathon schedule that included a two-day preseason tournament.
Two weeks ago, Thunder showed some early season jitters, dropping its regular-season opener in a 2-0 squeaker against CASL Elite White.
A pair of broken plays late in the game caught Thunder by surprise and left it trailing as time ran out.
Thunder shook off the jitters the next day and steamrolled Triangle Futbol Club Navy 4-0.
Katelyn Richards and Haley Robinson gave a double deuce performance with a pair of points each to secure the win.
Richards found her spot down the middle, scoring on a hard shot that ripped past the TFC keeper. Richards was down the middle again where she capitalized on a keeper miscue to put Thunder out front 2-0.
Robinson used the center route in the second period, evading a pair of TFC defenders to strike for another Thunder goal.
Thunder topped the tally at 4-0 when Robinson's header off Mary Dixon's high loft from the left corner found the mark.
A doubleheader on the road last Saturday produced thorns and roses for Thunder. In the morning match with TFC Attack, Thunder gained the offensive edge, tipping the scales on an evenly matched contest for a 1-0 victory.
Thunder's persistent pressure paid off when Dixon collected a midfield cross from Anna Bridgman and connected for the game winner late in the second period.
The thorns for Thunder came in the afternoon contest where it ran into trouble with CASL Elite Black, falling 6-0 against the toughest team it has faced.
Thunder's goalkeeping tag team of Kara Sheerin and Abbey Crider are settling in as an effective duo, splitting the chores in the box.
This week's calendar has Thunder at home hosting CASL Spartan Premier White.
Sandhills Fierce doused the Fuquay-Varina Flames Black in a 3-1 U10 Challenge contest played in a downpour at Morganton Road on Sunday.
Syndnie Kavanaugh booted the first goal of the Fierce's season on a pass from left defender Chloe Hoffman. Kavanaugh connected again in the second half off an assist from Brianna Embler.
Olivia McKinney rotated out of the goalkeeper's position in the second half after earning a pair of saves and showed what she could do in the offensive third, adding another Fierce goal on an indirect kick off the right side.
The Flames dodged a shutout with a last-second goal that ended the match at 3-1 Fierce.
Fierce has the home pitch advantage this Sunday when the FVAA Flames White come to town.
Hunter Hawes' hat trick paced Sandhills Shock to a 3-1 win over Fayetteville Force United in U10 Challenge action last week in Fayetteville.
Hawes put Shock ahead in the fourth minute on an unassisted strike that stood through the first period. United returned fire on the whistle at the start of the second half, knotting the score at 1-1 less than a minute into the period, but the tie was short-lived.
Hawes rang the bell for the second time 45 seconds later with an assist from Christopher Masar. Shock added an insurance goal 10 minutes later when Hawes converted a corner kick to earn his hat trick and secure a 3-1 lead.
Jack Hoy worked the goal for the duration, turning back a dozen Force shots in the effort.
Shock hosts Fuquay-Varina Athletic Association Flash Red on Sunday at Morganton Road.
Classic: U12B -- Sandhills Vipers vs. CASL Premier Black, 1:30 p.m.; U13B -- Sandhills Storm at SSL Net Rippers 2 p.m.; U14B -- Sandhills Ajax vs. Yadkin Crush, noon; U16 -- Sandhills Dynamo vs. TUSA Silver, noon; U17 -- Sandhills Mutiny at Burke Blast Blue, 2 p.m.; U18B -- Sandhills Thunder vs. TFC Green, 2 p.m.; U11G -- Sandhills Thunder vs. CASL Spartan Premier White, 1:30 p.m.; U13G -- Sandhills Cyclones vs. OCSA Coastal Crew, 4 p.m.
Classic: U13B -- Sandhills Storm at NBASA Coastal United, TBA; U14B -- Sandhills Ajax at Greensboro SC White, TBA; U15B -- Sandhills Arsenal at FSC Force Premier, TBA; U16B -- Sandhills Dynamo at Charlotte United White, TBA; U18B -- Sandhills Thunder vs. CASL Premier, TBA.
Challenge: U10B -- Sandhills Celtic vs. Johnston Gunners, 4 p.m.; U10B -- Sandhills Shock vs. FVAA Flash Red, 2:30 p.m.; U10G -- Sandhills Fierce vs. FVAA Flames White, 1 p.m.; U12B -- Sandhills Cobras at TUSA Rangers, 2:30 p.m.; U13B -- Sandhills Speed vs. Johnston Knights, 2:30 p.m.; U13G -- Sandhills Chaos at FVAA Lightning, 4 p.m.; U14B -- Sandhills United at TFC Black, 2:30 p.m.
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