Middle Creek hands Wakefield first loss, advances to third round
Posted May 13
Updated May 14
Raleigh, N.C. — Middle Creek defeated previously unbeaten Wakefield Saturday afternoon in Raleigh to halt the Wolverines’ quest for perfection and advance in the 2017 N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A girls soccer playoffs.
Two Mustangs first-half goals were enough to hold off Wakefield in the second half for a 2-1 victory on the Wolverines’ home pitch.
Middle Creek’s victory avenged a 2-1 loss to Wakefield on March 2, the Mustangs’ third game of the regular season.
“Our offense plan was to press hard at first, try to get some goals off the top,” said Middle Creek head coach Guy Coleman said. “We did; we scored in seven minutes, so I was very proud of that. We just wanted to press and disrupt the defense, which we were able to do and get some quick goals.”
Middle Creek senior Kylie McElroy got the Mustangs on the board early in the contest with a blast that beat the Wolverine goalkeeper Rachel Hennenkamp in the 7th minute of play.
Sophomore Mattie Murphy gave Middle Creek a two-goal lead 21 minutes with a shot from distance that beat Hennenkamp to the far right corner of the net.
Murphy returned to play Saturday evening for the first time in five games after suffering a concussion, Coleman said.
Wakefield had its fair share of chances in the first half, including its best with 14 minutes to play in the first stanza. The Wolverines sent several shots in on Middle Creek goalkeeper Caroline Lauer, but the senior somehow kept the ball out of the net.
The Wolverines struggled to find room near the net in the first half due to Middle Creek’s fundamentally sound defensive position.
Coleman was pleased with the girls’ two-goal halftime lead, but knew in the back of his mind that it’s the most dangerous lead in soccer.
“We all knew that, but I’d rather be up 2-0 at half than down 2-0 against them,” he said. “We scored early against them, and that threw them off. People don’t really do that to them a lot. We really wanted to do that and we were able to. Tonight it worked.”
Wakefield was the aggressor in the second half, and Middle Creek held on for dear life.
The Wolverines continued to pepper Lauer in the second stanza until they finally broke through in the 60th minute.
Sophomore Sierra Lowery located fellow sophomore McRae Calhoun in the top of the box, who headed the ball past Lauer to cut Wakefield’s deficient to one goal with 20 minutes in regulation.
Wakefield continued a rabid push for the game-tying goal, earning several corner kicks in the final 15 minutes, but the Wolverines couldn’t convert.
Lauer made the play of the game in the 76th minute, making an outstretched, match-saving stop on a kick that was taken near midfield. Sophomore Wolverine Tareya Stokes nearly got to the ball in time on the rebound, but Lauer just beat her to it.
Wakefield ends its season with a 16-1-3 overall record and claimed the CAP 8 Conference regular season championship with a 11-0-3 in-conference finish.
“They fought their hearts out. Tonight I don’t think we were the lesser team, I just thing that it didn’t fall,” said Wakefield head coach CJ Komons. “We created many opportunities; we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
Middle Creek (14-5-3, 11-3-2 SWAC) will host Heritage (12-7-3, 7-5-2 CAP 8) in Apex Wednesday night in the fourth round of the NCHSAA 4A girls soccer playoffs.
“We’re excited to head home; we’ve been playing really well at home this year,” Coleman said. “No bus rides before the game, so we’ll be happy about that. We lost only one game at home this season, so we’re happy.”