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Finishing opportunities has hung around as a season-long issue for the Wilson Christian Academy and Greenfield School varsity boys soccer teams.
Despite cranking out slightly more than half the opportunities generated by visiting Greenfield, the Chargers owned a slight edge in capitalizing and emerged with a 2-1 triumph in a rematch of city rivals from different classifications on the Wilson Christian pitch on a perspiration-provoking Monday evening.
In avenging a 2-1 loss at Greenfield, the Chargers of the North Carolina Christian School Association 2-A East Region evened their record at 4-4-2. The fourth loss in the last five days left Greenfield of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association`s 1-A/2-A Coastal Plain Independents Conference with a 6-6-2 mark.
“It feels good to finally beat them, especially my senior year. This is the first time the seniors have beaten them. It’s kind of big,” commented senior Jackson Hoskins, who was credited with the Chargers’ first-half goal.
WCA survived a frantic final 15 minutes — when the Knights scored and mustered numerous other opportunities. Greenfield owned a 22-12 margin in shots — with senior Jackson Stone blasting 12 of them. However, the Chargers kept Stone, Greenfield’s leading scorer, out of the net.
“This game, we didn’t man-mark him,” Hoskins explained. “We found a way to guard him, not stab and contain him.”
Added WCA head coach Don Samson: “We took a different approach and it worked.”
The Chargers claimed a 2-0 edge with slightly over 12 minutes remaining. Junior Gabe Barnes fielded senior Brice Murray’s throw-in and headed the ball to sophomore Elliot Resendiz in front of the goal. Resendiz finished despite the diving effort of Greenfield keeper Luke Flaherty.
The Knights retaliated with just under nine minutes left. With the ball loose after a corner kick, sophomore William Smith blasted a shot from some 20 yards out. WCA keeper Harrison Parker, a junior, had no chance.
But Parker and defender Murray came up big the rest of the way in withstanding a barrage from the Knights’ Stone, Will Powell and sophomore Sebastian Partida.
“Harrison did a great job in goal,” Samson expressed. “He made a couple of fantastic saves. I was impressed with our guys’ effort. We were not in complete control, but we never left the game.”
Hoskins opened the scoring in the 14th minute, blasting a corner kick that was inadvertently headed by a Greenfield defender and sailed into the goal.
“I put it to the front post,” Hoskins noted, “to see if one of our guys could get to it. It went off the head of one of their defenders. That was unfortunate for them but ...”
Otherwise, the first half saw Stone, Partida, junior Zeke Ferrell, William Smith and junior Eli Ferrell combine for 14 shots as compared to four for WCA senior Zach Hunter and Hoskins. Flaherty was surrounded by solid defensive play from Powell, sophomore Cabell Metts, senior Patrick Smith and senior Riley Jennings.
The Knights wasted no time continuing to challenge Parker, Murray, senior Bryce Hughes, sophomore Jack Ortiz and freshman Alex Torres in the second half. Getting help from eighth-grader Matt Kirby, Greenfield’s Flaherty repelled a WCA flurry in the final two minutes.
“That was the story,” first-year head coach Eric Nguyen said of Greenfield’s inability to finish. “We defended well for the most part. But we gave away the first goal and could have done a better job defensively on the second.
“This was a city rivalry and we beat them 2-1 the first time with a late goal. There was no doubt they were going to come out hard — and they did.”
Both teams are in action Tuesday, with the Knights welcoming conference foe Pope John Paul at 6 p.m. and WCA visiting region rival Hilltop Christian of Fuquay-Varina at 4:30.
“Obviously, Greenfield is a great team,” Samson said. “This is another good step for us.”