Patriot Boys Start Soccer Season With Victory
Senior Max Brenner called the first of his two goals in Pinecrest's 2-0 victory over Terry Sanford one of the ugliest he ever scored.
The possession-oriented Patriots did plenty of other things that looked pretty nice in Monday's season opener at the John Williams Athletic Complex. They scored in each half while limiting Bulldog chances to few and far between. Earlier in the evening, the Patriot junior varsity team was also successful, claiming a 6-2 victory over the school from Fayetteville.
Tonight at 7 p.m., Sanderson of the powerful Cap Seven Conference provides another tough non-conference challenge.
The Patriots dominated possession throughout the first half, but the first goal almost belonged to the Bulldogs. Kemji Nweosu was met by Pat goalkeeper Lewis Cable at the top of the penalty circle in the 20th minute and chipped a ball that hit the top bar of the goal and bounced back before being cleared.
With seven minutes left before the intermission, the visitors finally succumbed to the constant pressure put on by the Patriots. After a cross from the left, Brenner pounced on the loose ball. He was denied by a deflection and a goalkeeper save before finding the net for a 1-0 lead.
Patriot coach Todd Abbey liked the extra effort from one of the squad's 13 senior players.
"It was good to see. I think that's something we were missing in training and in the scrimmages," he said. "We hadn't really had a player step up and will their way through. I think it kind of jump-started the guys to see that effort."
Twelve minutes into the second half, the Patriots showed they can also strike quickly. Aaron Stroker won a ball just past midfield in transition and deftly touched a ball off to Brenner racing by him. The senior ran on to it and tucked it in the net from about 20 yards away, making it 2-0.
"As a forward, that's what we love -- those layoffs and the one-touch shot," Brenner said.
With inside midfielders Thomas Goulden, Stroker and Richard Palmer controlling the center, the home team had the Bulldogs chasing or on their heels most of the rest of the way. But, Taylor Miles, in the center of the back three that included Patrick White and Dylan Cole, was wary of the striking capability of Nweosu and Rocket Court, a 2008 all-state selection. Court was a Sandhills Celtics teammate of Miles and a number of other Patriots.
"Their two strikers are skilled and athletic for the most part," Miles said. "You saw Rocket get about three shots on us and that was scary. But, possession was taking a whole lot off my shoulders. I was feeling relaxed at times."
Cable got credit for the shutout in goal, with late relief from Ethan Kavanaugh, before a large home crowd. The scoreboard was out of commission due to a lightning strike earlier in the day.
Abbey was pleased with his team's performance in his first game as coach of the Patriot boys. The former Pinecrest player led the Patriot girls to the third round of the state playoffs and a 17-5 record in the spring.
"The boys showed tonight we can play possession and we can move the ball around," he said. "As they get better at it, they're going to be hard to stop."
Tonight's match will be the season opener for a Sanderson team that finished at 12-9-2 a year ago and was defeated by Fuqua-Varina in the second round of the state 4-A playoffs.
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