Cain Hits 50, Pats Get Panther Creek
The Pinecrest girls return to the real world of high school soccer when they entertain Panther Creek on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the first round of the state 4-A playoffs.
Less than 15 minutes into Thursday's game against Westover, both Latanya Cain and Katie Letsinger had each scored four goals. The Patriots waltzed their way to a 15-0 victory in the home match that ended at halftime under the Mid-Southeastern Conference mercy rule. Cain's last goal in the Pats' final regular-season contest was her 50th of the season.
Coming after Wednesday's 10-0 win over Seventy-First that also brought the mercy rule into play, coach Larry Martin has the challenge of getting his squad sharpened up for the playoff opener. As a No. 1 seed, Pinecrest (18-1-1) faces Panther Creek (11-6-2), the fourth-place team from the tough Tri-7 Conference.
"That's going to be a massive change of gears," Martin said. "It is a little bit of a challenge and a problem, but I think we'll be all right. All we can do is concentrate on playing simple-fast soccer, and try to get back in the groove as fast as we can."
Westover arrived shortly before game time. The Wolverines trailed 3-0 after 90 seconds of play on a pair of goals by Cain and one by Letsinger. The scoring parade also included goals by Morgan Maples (two), Lyndsey Anderson (two), Kate Hieronymus, Sarah Dejak and Bailey Pages.
The shutout was the Patriots' 13th of the season. They finished 14-0 in the conference, out-scoring league opponents 106 to 5.
Cain's milestones in four varsity seasons include a career total of 162 goals. At the end of Thursday's match, she was not aware of reaching the 50-goal mark.
"Really? Wow," the N.C. State bound senior said. "It's been a great four years, and I've enjoyed every bit of it. I just thank God for the opportunity to get out and play. I have fun doing it, and scoring goals is just an asset."
Pinecrest, currently the 10th ranked team in 4-A, completes the regular season with 17 wins in a row. Its only loss was 3-1 to No. 9 Hoggard back on Feb. 29. Four of Panther Creek's six losses were at the hands of Tri-7 powers in No. 6 Green Hope and No. 7 Apex.
The two teams have one common opponent. Pinecrest defeated Cary 3-2 a week ago. Panther Creek beat Cary twice, 4-1 and 1-0.
"Panther Creek is a good, quality team, and a young team," Martin said. "We'll have to play well to advance to the second round. I think our girls are playing great soccer right now."
The two goals by Maples give her 18 for the season. She is also the assist leader on the team with a dozen. After getting knocked out in the second round of the playoffs last year, Maples is excited about the chance to go farther this time around.
"In my sophomore year, we got to the fourth round," the senior recalled. "My goal has always been to get past that. Every win in the playoffs is a great win. It won't be a walk in the park, that's for sure."
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