Pinecrest Girls Blitz Scotland
Seniors Antonia Meyers and Kristen Phelps have only played soccer together for four years, but their scoring collaboration during the Pinecrest Patriot girls’ soccer game against Scotland High on Monday night made it appear that it had been a lot longer.
Coach Ray Blatz’s team (10-1-2, 7-0-0), ranked sixth in the state by Eurosport Scoreboard, hosted the Scots in a one-sided Southeastern Conference match, won by Pinecrest 8-0.
But the game was dominated by the fast pace favored by Blatz, something that really made him happy after a 12-day layoff.
He also noticed the energy between two of his team leaders.
“Up top, Kristen and Antonia were phenomenal all night,” Blatz said as he reflected on the game. “They converted opportunities and found the mid-fielders. The two of them had a very nice game.”
Meyers (three) and Phelps (two) accounted for five of the goals. Rounding out the scoring for Pinecrest were Sophia Flores, Ally Parziale and Megan Thomas with one each.
In the 15th minute, Phelps was in position for the first score of the game but collided with Scotland’s junior goalkeeper Destiny Grove.
Meyers corralled the deflected ball and beat an on-coming defender by one step at the mouth of the goal to put the Patriots ahead, 1-0.
Less than three minutes later, Phelps controlled the ball down the left side of the field to the baseline, connecting with Meyers about eight feet outside the net.
At the 20-minute mark in the first half, Phelps was on the receiving end of a perfect one-touch push by Katherine Palmer, putting the home team out in front 3-0.
With eight minutes left in the first half, Flores had an easy score to give Pinecrest a four-goal cushion after the first 40 minutes.
Parziale opened the second half scoring as she watched a high arching shot clear the goalkeeper’s outstretched gloves in the 48th minute, which was quickly followed by Meyers’ third goal.
Phelps then converted a penalty kick with little effort for a 7-0 lead. With 20 minutes left in the game, Palmer worked hard against defenders to save the ball deep in the left corner and made a perfect cross in the middle to Megan Thomas, who had a solid strike from the top of the box for the final tally.
With so many offensive weapons facing his team, Scotland coach Colin McDavid just asked his team (6-9-1) to be disciplined and to cover each other.
“You can’t ‘mark’ any one player from Pinecrest because all of their players are good,” he said with a smile. “I told them to keep communicating and work fast. There’s only so much you can do against a quality team like Pinecrest.”
In the goal, Abbey Crider and Meyers preserved the Patriot’s 11th shutout of the season.
Blatz liked the tempo his team used against Scotland, especially coming off spring break.
“It was the cleanest we’ve moved the ball and it was nice to see the effort and high energy level from the girls,” he added. “It also helped that we are finally 100 percent healthy.
“We do have a deep team, and the ability to have all of our players available and able to play multiple positions worked well for us tonight.”
One of Phelps’ scores came via penalty kick after the keeper was ruled to have kept her from scoring following a collision in front of the goal.
“We don’t practice PKs. It’s just all in your head, so even if you’re nervous out there, you’ve got to pretend like you already know it’s going in,” she said. “It’s one of the easiest, yet hardest, aspects of the game.”
Junior Hannah Wannall agreed that energy and pace of play was important in this game and will continue to be a focus as conference and state tournaments begin.
“Our biggest goal is to move the ball quickly, since we will face teams that are physically stronger, as well as technically stronger, as we keep playing,” she said. “As we face tougher teams, the way we move the ball, like we did tonight, will be to our benefit.”
The junior varsity squad, coached by Evan Saleeby, topped the Scots by a score of 4-0. Catherine Cirigliano had two goals, and Olivia McKinney and Kaitlyn Carter accounted for the remaining two.
Upcoming games for Pinecrest include a varsity conference game with Purnell Swett on Wednesday and a home game with East Chapel Hill (8-4-3) on Friday for both jayvee and varsity teams.
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