Sanderson Stops Pinecrest Boys in Soccer
After watching his team drop its season opener 3-1 to Sanderson, Pinecrest boys’ soccer coach Todd Abbey echoed a familiar refrain.
“Don’t put your heads down,” he told his players. “It’s the first game in a very long season.”
The Patriots have turned taking their lumps in early matches against quality competition into very long seasons each of the past two years when they made it to the state 4-A final four. For a good part of Tuesday’s home match, they seemed to have the upper hand against the squad from Raleigh.
The Spartans opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Nick Williams seemed to surprise the Pats with a quick turn and shot from about 25 yards away that found the right corner of the net. The equalizer came five minutes later when Jimmy Casey ran on to a long cross from the left side by Chris Potter and launched a shot that the Spartan goalkeeper got a piece of before it found the net.
The Patriots’ inability to clear the second of two corner kicks in a row by the Spartans’ Dylan Ejlali put Brandon Johnston in position to tuck another shot inside the right post from 25 yards away in the 28th minute, making it 2-1. The Pats had a number of chances to knot things up before the intermission, including a through ball by Dane Nelsen in the 39th minute that a front-running Justin Mace couldn’t quite get a good swipe at.
The back-breaker for the home side came on a goal by the Spartans’ Ryan Turner, from a similar range as the first two, in the 62nd minute.
“We’ve just got to get better at getting the ball out,” Patriot center back Nick Kruyer said. “It’s still early in the season. Hopefully, we can get better at it and not allow those types of goals as the season goes on.”
The Pats’ best chance to close the gap came with about four minutes remaining when Nelsen worked inside along the right end line and fed Hayden Little for a shot that was tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Beau Worley.
Abbey told his players he wants them to get the “dirty goals,” the “work your butt off goals.”
“Scoring is an attitude,” he said after dismissing the team. “It’s not something I can teach in practice day in and day out. Like late last season, Dane figured it out and scored in every game (five in a row). It wasn’t anything different we did; it was an attitude.”
Saturday’s scheduled match at Greensboro Day has been postponed. Next are 6:30 p.m. games on the road against Leesville Road on Monday and Athens Road on Wednesday — both quality teams.
“These are the teams we’re going to meet in the playoffs, so we have to get used to playing them now,” Kruyer said.
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