Pats Earn Tie With the Pride
The Pinecrest girls’ soccer team continued its solid season start, holding defending state 4-A champion Leesville Road scoreless in the first home game of the young season on Friday night.
The 0-0 final came on the heels of Wednesday’s important season-opening win at perennial powerhouse Wilmington Hoggard where senior Keegan Cary scored the lone goal, pacing the Patriots to a 1-0 victory.
The Pride, who finished 24-1-1 last season and currently is first in the Eurosport Scoreboard rankings, faced a determined Patriot team anchored by a stingy defense. Sophomore goalkeeper Abbey Crider went the distance for the home team.
Neither team could claim control of the field in an evenly played battle of state contenders.
New head coach Ray Blatz was very proud of his team, which is training under a new counter-attack system.
“The girls did a tremendous job for just learning the system,” Blatz said after the game. “We had many opportunities to score goals, but we just didn’t capitalize.”
Cary, a four-year starter at midfield, and defender Jazz Jones admitted after the tie that there was a bit of an intimidation factor associated with playing Leesville Road, but not for long.
“When we stepped on the field, the nerves sort of went away,” said Cary. “We all connected and started talking. That was one of the keys.”
Jones said the new system was a big change, but agreed that constantly talking to her teammates during the hard-fought match was very important.
“Communication is everything and we just have to talk,” she said, “because we had opportunities to score, and the next game we have to convert those chances.”
One of the best Pinecrest opportunities of the evening came with 14:47 left in the contest, when senior Ally Parziale had a hard shot at the Pride goalkeeper, who deflected the ball as it hit the crossbar.
Blatz singled out the defense, led by Jones, a junior.
“Every decision Jazz made tonight was correct, and she commanded the defense,” the coach said. “She had a tremendous game, along with Mackenzie Reed, Keegan Lynch and Heather Brock, who played phenomenal defense the entire game.”
In the earlier junior varsity game, Pinecrest coach Evan Saleeby spoke about the 3-0 loss as being a bit of a “wake-up call” for his young team.
“We are not used to the speed at which Leesville Road played us,” he said. “Losing early like that can be a good thing.”
The Patriots (1-0-1) are back in action at home Wednesday night, hosting Cardinal Gibbons (0-0-1), currently ranked second in the 3-A Eurosport Scoreboard.
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