Viking Boys Struggle in League Soccer
An inability to score has seen the Union Pines boys’ soccer team slip substantially in the 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference (CFVC) standings over the past two weeks.
Monday, the visiting Vikings dropped a deflating 2-1 decision to league foe Western Harnett in Lillington, with the Eagles scoring the winning goal from more than 30 yards out on a counter-attack in the 79th minute.
It was the Union Pines boys’ third straight CFVC loss as the Vikings are now 2-3 in the league standings and 3-7-1 overall. Last Wednesday, Union Pines lost 3-0 in Sanford to Southern Lee after falling 1-0 to Gray’s Creek in its first conference loss of the season.
With the win, Western Harnett, which entered Monday’s league tilt tied with Union Pines for third place in the CFVC standings, improved to 3-2 in CFVC play and 3-6 overall.
After falling behind 1-0 early when the homestanding Eagles scored a penalty kick (PK), Union Pines dominated possession and scoring opportunities in the first half with nothing to show for it.
Through the first 35 minutes Union Pines tallied seven shots on goal, with three quality chances to score, including a missed PK in the fourth minute. Meanwhile, the Vikes did not allow a shot on goal from the field in the first half.
Finally, the Vikings got a ball into the back of the net on a goal by Adam Howard. Matthew Cooper played a nice, low through ball — out of the central midfield — to Howard’s feet for the assist.
Howard then dribbled past two defenders into the penalty box and slotted the ball past the Western keeper inside the left goal post.
Western Harnett scored the game winner in transition, with Union Pines pushed up and pressuring the Western Harnett goal. A midfielder fired a shot on goal some 30-35 yards, which got over goalkeeper P.J. Schmittdiel and just under the crossbar. According to head coach Mike Mibb, his Viking team “failed to play well in the second half but continued to dominate.”
“Union Pines reverted back to playing the way it did last year with a lot of individual effort and hard work,” added Mibb. “Most of the play was down the middle of the field with little wing play, or teamwork out of the forwards and midfield.”
A year ago at this point in the season — through 11 games played — Union Pines was 5-1 in CFVC action and 5-4-2 overall.
“This is a match we clearly should have won,” said Mibb. “Unfortunately the players have not bought into the team concept necessary to be a quality soccer team.
“At halftime I instructed the guys to remain patient and continue their teamwork. I wanted them to use the wings more and have more field position awareness, with better placement of their shots. Unfortunately, the forwards and part of the midfield tried to do too much on their own and we wound up on the wrong side of the score.”
Up next for Union Pines is a CFVC road match against Westover Monday at 6 p.m. in Fayetteville.
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