Patriots Blank Scotland
Senior Jake Harbeck and junior Rene Cruz each scored two goals to lead the Pinecrest Patriot boys’ soccer team to a 5-0 Southeastern Conference victory Monday over the Scotland High Fighting Scots.
Hayden Little also added a goal and an assist.
Illness and injury led coach Evan Saleeby to retool his starting lineup, which included junior defender Felix Licerio in his first varsity game. After a couple of shaky moments in the opening minutes, Saleeby saw everyone settle down for an “overall good team performance.”
“I was excited to play and finally get a chance to show what I can do,” said Licerio, “but it was nerve-racking for a little while. But when we finally settled, it wasn’t so bad.”
It only took the offense three minutes before “G” Peraza dribbled the ball down the right side of the field and located Cruz for the cross and score at the 18-yard marker. Moments later, the score was 2-0 as Cruz scored from in close.
Little’s right-footed boot from about 10 yards out gave the Patriots a 3-0 cushion at halftime.
Harbeck collected his two goals in the second half, the first after a nice assist from senior Clay Richter, who found him breaking toward the goal. Little brought the ball down the right side of the field to the end line and made a deft cross to the sprinting Harbeck, who slammed it home.
“That goal was all teamwork, from Luke (Lynch) to Hayden’s through ball and then the cross to me,” said Harbeck. “It hit the back of the net like a bullet. It was pretty much fun.
“For me, I’m just out there cultivating my soccer creativity.”
Goalkeepers Garrett Melia and Jordan Wilkins shared time in the goal, collecting the fourth Patriot shutout of the season.
The game was halted midway the first half when Scotland goalkeeper Robert McMillan and teammate Afiz Lateef collided while attempting a defensive stop on the Patriots.
McMillan was confined to the ground for more than 20 minutes by the Scotland coaching staff, while waiting for medical personnel to arrive. Both players were taken to the local hospital as a precaution, where they were checked for concussion symptoms. McMillan received stitches.
“I was concerned about the Scots’ players who were injured and apologized to their staff for not having an athletic trainer here during our games,” Saleeby said. “That’s an important person to have since there is only so much that coaching staffs can do when a player is hurt.”
Scots’ coach Colin McDavid said after the game that McMillan had contacted the team and said he was “OK.” McDavid added that, while neither had been cleared for a concussion, he was confident that they would be fine.
“This was a hard-fought game, and I’m really proud of the way my boys played,” McDavid said positively. “They tried, they never gave up, and I feel like we competed with Pinecrest.
“They (Pinecrest) are the better team — I’ll give them that — but I felt that we created some good chances, and we didn’t just play defense.”
He praised backup goalkeeper Victor Still for keeping control of the defense after the injuries to his teammates.
“This was Victor’s first time ever in goal, but he stepped in there,” McDavid said. “He is a very fast, athletic guy.”
Saleeby believes that his team is in a good place, both with his starters and his bench. The team’s fourth consecutive win comes just three days after the Patriots traveled to Wilmington Hoggard last Friday night, picking up a 2-0 victory.
“Hayden was unassisted on the first goal Friday and then he had an assist to Jake for the second goal,” the coach said about the nonconference tilt. “It’s always good to go on the road to a tough opponent and get a good, hard-fought win, which has added to our confidence.
“Against Scotland, we were able to get a lot of significant playing time for our guys on the bench, which is good for their development. This team knows that a role can be filled if someone is out.”
The Patriot coach commended the play of Taylor Morton, Drew Phillips and Peraza, all of whom had significant contributions in pushing the conference leaders (2-0-0) to an overall record of 4-1-1 as they head to Pernell Swett tonight.
The Pinecrest junior varsity played Hoggard to a 1-1 tie Friday, but came back with an overwhelming 5-0 victory over the Fighting Scots. Goals were credited to Dormaine Johnson, Cole Ritch (penalty kick), Hunter Hawes (two), and Cameron Morton.
“The boys got back on track by beating Scotland, but we missed a number of chances in the second half and gave away possession too easily,” said interim jayvee coach Jordan Beck. “The team is improving and has not reached its peak, but it was good to get a solid victory against a lively and athletic Scotland side.”
East Chapel Hill returns Thursday for a rematch of a contest that was suspended because of lightning.
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