DURHAM — The Middle Creek boys’ soccer team pulled out a 1-0 win at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics on Tuesday, with a 40th-minute penalty shot by Chris Gottberg the only tally.
The result was exactly what Middle Creek (2-1) needed. With a starting back line that has two sophomores, two juniors and no one taller than 5-foot-7 (one reserve defender is 5-9), a shutout had coach Eddie Wasdell feeling better about the Mustangs.
Middle Creek had been attacked consistently, in a 4-3 win against Northern Durham and a 7-2 loss to Millbrook.
The Tuesday match was “our best defensive effort,” Wasdell said. “Our communication, and we were really compact and just covering for each other.”
Helping the back line was senior co-captain Dylan Jenkins. The midfielder worked hard all night, playing box-to-box.
“We definitely have to get our defensive mids back and forth to help them out,” Jenkins said.
Helping organize the unit is senior goalkeeper Ryan Fuller, who made key stops to preserve shutout.
“We’ve definitely got to talk a lot because they’re young,” Fuller said. “Mostly we’ve got to watch the overhead ball and the through ball that they play.”
While Middle Creek’s stated goal is to go to the playoffs for back-to-back seasons – the Mustangs made last year’s postseason after a one-year hiatus and haven’t made two consecutive trips in program history – Science and Math (0-1-2) has accomplished its goal of playing up.
The Unicorns, moving up from 1A to 2A this year, have faced two 4A foes already (the other a 2-2 tie with Wilmington Ashley).
“It’s a building (process),” coach Henry Gallagher said. “These games are here for that reason. We don’t want to play easy games where we can come out and run up the scores; we want to play tough games where we can identify problems and try to work on tomorrow and the day after.”
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps