Published: Mar 22, 2012 12:59 PM
Modified: Mar 23, 2012 05:15 PM
CARY - Green Hope girls soccer coach Bobby Peterson knows his talented team, ranked first in the state by Eurosportscoreboard.com and second in the nation by ESPN, is loaded with offensively-skilled players. But at times, he saw them focusing more on possessing another area the Falcons excel in rather than creating scoring chances.
Peterson got his team to change its mindset in the past week, just in time for a clash at Cary (6-2-1, 5-2) for first place in the Tri-Nine Conference.
Green Hope didnt relinquish its top spot, earning a 3-0 win Wednesday night due in large part to a more straightforward approach by the Falcons top scoring threats.
With the forwards we have, we should be trying to attack the other teams back line. And since weve been doing that, ironically, our possession has gone up, Peterson said. We were wanting to go direct to their goal and pressure their back line as much as we could.
The formula saw quick results, as Maya Worth took possession back from a Cary defender, and turned to see fellow junior Alexis Degler wide open in the middle of the pitch. Worth delivered the simple pass to set up Deglers 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper, and the latter calmly tapped in the games first goal in the third minute.
The 1-0 score stayed put until halftime, though Imps sophomore Phoebe Shurtleff pushed a shot just wide in the 10th minute.
It turned out to be the best look any Cary player got the rest of the game, as the Falcons (9-0, 7-0) began cutting out the Imps would-be chances in the second half, save for a few threatening runs into the box by Cary striker Bria Dixon.
Though Carys back line remained organized for most of the game, Green Hope proved that even good organization isnt enough sometimes.
Junior standout Alexis Shaffer received a counterattacking pass from 30 yards away, charged hard to the left side of goal while being marked by two defenders and coolly slotted in a 53rd minute goal in the right corner.
We play kind of a different formation this year, where Maya and I are up top and we have (Maura McDonnell) on the outside and Alexis Degler plays underneath us, It gives us more people up front that combine with and play through, Thats a greater advantage against the defense than last year.
The scoring was capped off by senior Grace Hamashima who has been unable to practice much this month due to starring in the school musical lifting a strike over the head of Cary goalkeeper Mackenzie Williams in the 77th minute.
She couldnt find anyone moving, and you could almost see reluctance, and then she figured what the heck? Peterson said. You could see that her instincts are still good, and thats what shes always had.
Sidney Durand, a center back starting her fifth game as goalkeeper while Lisa Armstrong remains out after a concussion, needed six saves to notch her third shutout.
Peterson said Armstrong could return as early as Mondays game against Panther Creek, but will assuredly be back after spring break, which is the following week.
The loss snapped a seven-game unbeaten streak for Cary including four shutouts as it continues one its best start to a season under fourth-year coach Laura Kerrigan.
If we had gotten one of those goals early on, it couldve been a different game, Kerrigan said. The closer we stay to teams like Green Hope, the more confidence it builds for us.