Lady Pats Breeze Into Tournament Final
The Pinecrest girls’ soccer team dominated Scotland High School in the SEC tournament semifinals on Tuesday night, winning 10-0.
The Patriots will host Lumberton (16-5-2) on Thursday night at 7 p.m. for the tournament championship.
In a surprising move that clearly energized an offense struggling with scoring consistently, coach Todd Abbey moved sophomore defender Jazz Jones to forward, giving speed to the Pinecrest front line along with an offensive boost.
“Jazz is a good back, but she is one of those players who has the abilities to switch positions,” said Abbey. “I needed to do something different to get players to score, and Jazz has a lot of speed.”
Pinecrest moved the ball with ease and used that speed to create opportunities early and often in the game. Seven different players shared the scoring responsibilities as the Patriots pushed their record to 14-6-3 on the season.
Senior Michele Lynch notched the first of her two goals with a low driving kick with only five minutes gone in the game. In the next 60 seconds, Jones took a cross from forward Kristen Phelps, striking the ball solidly in the left corner from inside the 18. Only six minutes into the game, the Patriots were up 2-0.
Kathryn Palmer found the back of the net in the 15th minute, as she ripped a shot following a pass from Haley Robinson.
With only two minutes left in the half, Pinecrest gave themselves a four goal halftime cushion when Phelps’ attempted cross from the left corner was deflected by a Scots defender, setting up Lynch’s second goal, which sailed into the upper left corner of the goal.
Six more tallies to open the second half shut down any thoughts of a Scotland rally. Claire Epling scored twice from close in, Ally Parziale found her spot inside the box for two more, and Phelps finished an Abbey Crider cross with a booming kick for a 9-0 lead. Crider then lofted an over-the-shoulder floater in front of the net for the 10th goal with 17 minutes left in regulation.
According to conference rules, the game was officially over, but respectful of the Scotland seniors playing their last game, both coaches and officials agreed to finish playing the full 90 minutes. While not an allowable goal in the final scoring, senior Ashly’n Douglas tallied with 10 minutes left.
Abbey Crider shared goal-keeping duties with Leah Fredrique and Felicia Painter.
Freshmen Mackenzie Reed and Robinson had good minutes in their first tournament game and thought that pre-game preparation and having Jazz Jones up front ignited a flash in the Patriots and enabled them to finish well.
“It’s been a few games since we played really well,” said Robinson. “We worked on moving the ball quicker and keeping more possessions rather than just ‘booting’ it to people up the field.”
Reed added, “We were more focused in warm-ups, and Jazz just added the spark we needed. It was very exciting.”
Coach Abbey knows that the upcoming state playoffs have a role in the team’s renewed chemistry and is lucky to have eight seniors who understand how to handle the pressure of postseason play.
“Tonight was a total team effort,” he pointed out. “They were focused and moved the ball on the ground, which is what we do best.”
“We just played good, simple soccer,” Abbey said with smile.
Contact Norma Stilwell at ARS1960@aol.com.
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