Patriots Blank Britt
Jack Britt coach Natt Bunphithak admitted that his defensive-minded game plan against the Pinecrest girls’ soccer team might create more breakaway chances for the undefeated Patriot home team.
On Friday night, Pinecrest only needed two of those chances — well-struck goals by freshman Sophia Flores — to make the difference as the Patriots stayed in the win column, taking a 2-0 victory over the nonconference foe from Fayetteville in a hard-fought contest at John Williams Field.
The South-eastern Confer-ence leader consistently controlled the first half, before Antonia Meyers handled the ball perfectly down the middle to a cutting Flores on the left side, for her first goal of the night. Flores’ right-footed strike sneaked in the left corner, giving the Patriots a 1-0 lead with 28 minutes gone in the match.
A few minutes later, the Patriots’ leading scorer (five goals) dribbled down the right edge of the pitch to the corner of the box, where she found the back of the net for what would be the final score.
“I knew what their offensive power was,” said Bunphithak, whose team is 4-3-1, “and I wanted to see what we could do by pressuring high from the back. We gave a great effort.
“Pinecrest is great competition, and we have to play better teams like them. We have a young group and started only one senior tonight. I feel this game will help them in the future and in a playoff run.”
Patriot coach Ray Blatz also thought his team played a nice game, especially with the absence of three starters for various reasons. “We’re beginning to fall into a bit of a rhythm, moving the ball better from the backs to the forward,” he said. “We had plenty of goal-scoring opportunities, but unfortunately we didn’t finish all of them.”
Pinecrest’s multiple scoring attempts late in the second half were denied on an offside call and several which went long or outside the goal post. Jack Britt’s best scoring opportunity came with 20 minutes left in the game on a free kick that sailed over the top of the goal.
Blatz also had compliments for Flores, his only varsity freshman, who has filled an early offensive need for the Patriot girls.
“Sophia is a very hard-working, persistent player, and the many scoring opportunities that she’s getting are coming from hard work off the ball and beautiful balls played into her by Antonia,” said the coach. “She’s calm and patient. She picks out a spot and finishes well.”
Once again sophomore goalkeeper Abbey Crider held the opponent scoreless, with the help of a consistently swarming, active defense.
Senior defender Heather Brock thought that Britt brought a bigger challenge than she expected.
“Jack Britt has always been tough, but tonight it seemed that they played harder than I remember,” she said. “They were very fast and kept the pressure up.”
Asked about their undefeated status through the first six games, Brock and defender Jazz Jones both agreed that the team is “getting into a flow and meshing well together.”
“We’re settling into a routine that’s working for us,” Jones added.
The Patriot junior varsity team won the earlier match 2-0, and coach Evan Saleeby felt that his team has played a lot better in the last three games.
“We’re still struggling a bit, but we’ve switched up our formations a little, which has created more chances,” he said, “even though we scored on a penalty kick and goalkeeper miscue.”
Natalie Hipp and Olivia McKinney were credited with the scores.
Pinecrest (4-0-2, 1-0-0) is on the road for conference games at Scotland (2-5-1) on Monday and Pernell Swett (0-3-0) on Wednesday.
Blatz is hoping that he’ll have a full squad available as the seventh-ranked Patriots play 12th-ranked T.C. Roberson from Asheville at The Brittany Soccer Showcase in Wilson next Saturday.
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