With the 2014 soccer season still in its infancy, Evans and Greenbrier high schools took to the pitch for a Region 2-AAAAA battle Tuesday night.
Greenbrier got the upper hand in two hard-fought matches, the girls topping Evans 1-0 while the boys followed by holding on to win 2-1.
In their season- and region-opener, the Lady Wolfpack’s best play came on deep throw-ins by junior Raven Rose, who did it nine times. While they came close a few times before and after, it was Madison Campbell heading the ball in the left corner of the net with 35:43 left in the game on such a play that proved to be the game-winner.
“It’s been our goal-scorer for three or four years now,” said Lady Wolfpack head coach Wes Kendrick. “We’ve scored four goals this season and three of them have been off throw-ins.”
Coming out of the gate, it was the Knights on the attack and the game was played on Greenbrier’s half of the field. It took about 25 minutes before the tide turned and the Lady Wolfpack started controlling play.
“The first 15 minutes we couldn’t get out of our end,” said Kendrick. “I think Evans was fired up about the game and I think they kind of wore themselves out.”
The Lady Knights (1-1, 0-1 region) made the Lady Wolfpack work to the end. With 44 seconds left, a Bailee Munnerlyn corner kick was knocked down by Lady Wolfpack goalie Sarah Beth Steward and cleared out of harm’s way by the defense.
Evans head coach Kevin Musick liked what he saw from his team.
“I was very proud of them, I couldn’t ask for any more effort from my girls,” said Musick. “I’m excited. They never held their heads, they kept battling in there. A lot of effort.”
The Evans boys also gave a lot of effort which fell just short.
The Wolfpack (2-0, 1-0 region) appeared to be in control after getting a first-half goal by Taylor Peterson and a second-half score by Bryan Thompson.
The Knights got within one on a Josh Baker goal with 23:26 left in the contest, but could not produce the equalizer, even with Greenbrier down a man after Ikechi Erondu was assessed a red card with 12:10 to play.
“On balance it was a very hard-fought game between two committed teams, no doubt about that,” said Wolfpack first-year head coach Graeme Connolly, who switched from three defenders to four after the red card. “We look forward to getting to play them at least a couple more times.”
In the beginning it was the Wolfpack controlling the action, keeping the ball in the Knights’ end. Evans goalie Luca Castresana helped keep the Knights (0-2, 0-1) in the game throughout with 11 saves, many of the point-blank variety.
On the Wolfpack’s first score with seven 1/2 minutes gone, however, the Knights’ first-year goalie was beaten to a ball 15 yards in front of his goal by Peterson, who calmly tapped it in when Castresana went down on the battle for the ball. Toward the end of the first half, however, play began to even out.
“Once we settled down we put a lot of pressure on them, made it uncomfortable for them which is what we want,” said Knights’ head coach Brian Killips. “We made some mistakes that we can recover from that led to goals for them. I take nothing but positives from this game, those kids played hard.”
The Wolfpack would not score again until six minutes into the second half when Peterson chipped the ball from the left sideline to Thompson in the middle who slid it by Castresana.
Fighting back, the Knights’ Baker scored on a throw-in from KC Douglas with 23:26 to play, but Wolfpack goalie Connor Washer made three of his seven saves the rest of
the way to make the lead hold up.