Cavs Use Possession to Top Vikes in Soccer
Southern Lee shut down Union Pines to notch a 2-0 victory in 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference soccer action Monday in Cameron at Woodrow Wilhoit Stadium.
The visitors parlayed a decided edge in possession to enter intermission with a 1-0 lead in the league tilt.
Sophomore Ethan Helsman scored the lone goal of the first half, when he blasted in a rebound attempt from near the top of the box to give the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute. Southern Lee freshman Jair Cejudo came up with the assist on the scoring play after initiating the goal with a sharp shot that deflected off a Union Pines defender.
Although they were outshot 13-3 in the opening 40 minutes, the home team did have two quality looks at the goal. Rafael Pastrana touched a cross, played into the box by P.J. Schmittdiel, volleying the ball on target. But Cavs’ keeper Colin Yoder stopped the certain score with a brilliant save in the 27th minute.
With 7:30 left in the first half, Union Pines sophomore Matthew Cooper received a perfect slip-cross from senior captain Michael Lindsay. The pass caught Yoder out of position beyond the right post, setting Cooper up with a clear chance from 15 yards. With plenty of open room on the left half of the goal, Cooper fired off a shot, but overcooked the attempt, sending the ball hooking wide left.
Cavalier head coach Jason Burman was not pleased with his team’s first half performance, but felt they made up for it with their play in the final 40 minutes.
“Tonight we didn’t do much well in the first half,” Burman said. “We like balls on our feet. We like to play with a player or two up and make the ball run for us — the way the Vikings were playing made it tough for us to do that. They were getting on us quick, applying pressure right away and not letting us pass the ball too much, or giving us any time or space.
“Union Pines is a big, strong, physical team, with fast guys in the back and fast guys in the front. In that first half especially, they played us hard, they played us tough, and they got physical with us.”
With the win Southern Lee (13-3) improved its league-leading CFVC record to a perfect 9-0 on the season and, barring a colossal collapse, seems to be a lock to capture its third straight conference title.
“We have lost to Chapel Hill twice the last two years in the third round of the state playoffs,” said Burman, “and had them down on our field last season. As a group, this team doesn’t like to lose and we are very competitive. So those are things our seniors keep reminding the rest of our guys about, as we move through conference play and ready for the postseason.”
In the second half, the Cavs put on a virtual clinic in possession, through spacing, precision passing, structured organization and patience. Southern Lee completely controlled the action throughout the stanza by building possessions from the back and winning a vast majority of 50-50 balls.
“What we did in the second half is what we have done all year long,” Burman said. “To us, possession means more to us than goals. We are not a big team, we are not a fast team, and we are not a (physically) strong team, so we have to be a smart team, and I feel like we got back to playing smart soccer after the intermission.”
The visitors again outshot Union Pines. Southern Lee took eight shots in the half, including one that resulted in a score by Cejudo in the 72nd minute. Junior Arturo Aguirre’s assist on a cross from distance led to the score, which gave the Cavs a late 2-0 cushion.
Conversely, Union Pines managed only two shots through the final 40 minutes and never could maintain any serious organized attacking possessions in the half.
Despite the loss, Union Pines head coach Michael Mibb was upbeat about the way his team is playing at this stage of the season.
“Overall, I think our guys did a very good job tonight,” said Mibb. “We are still a step off Southern Lee’s class — clearly they are the class of the conference as they demonstrated tonight by playing a great game — but my guys made them (Southern Lee) earn it, they made them work, and they let them know they were in a game.
“Obviously, I would be more pleased with a win or a tie, but I am happy. I am happy with what I saw from my guys tonight and the way they played and competed — all things considered, this was a great effort from my team.”
The Vikings had a four-game CFVC win streak snapped with the loss, as they moved to 6-4 in league play and 7-8-1 overall.
Union Pines was scheduled to host Western Harnett in a league clash Tuesday. In the team’s first meeting, the Vikes fell 2-1 to the Eagles in Lillington.
“In that first match we had 23 shots on-goal and scored once,” Mibb said, “and they had five and scored twice. We out-possessed them and did everything right except score. Now my guys are shooting much better and we are a totally different team, and we are going to win that match (against Western) and everything else remaining in the regular season.”
Union Pines returns to action Monday in a nonconference home match against Jordan-Matthews at 6 p.m. before wrapping up the regular season with a senior night CFVC match with Westover at Woodrow Wilhoit Stadium on Oct. 26.
Currently the Vikings are in third place in the CFVC standings. Gray’s Creek is in second place, two games behind Southern Lee, at 7-2. Overhills occupies the fourth spot with a league mark of 4-5.
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org
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