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No. 1 Jacksonville downs No. 9 West Craven

Varsity vs Jacksonville HS on 9/21/2010 6:30:00 PM
Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2010 by Chris Miller, Freedom ENC

No. 1 Jacksonville downs No. 9 West Craven

Freedom ENC

Jacksonville made it clear that there was room for only one undefeated soccer team in the Coastal 3-A Conference.

The top-ranked Cardinals recorded a trio of second-half goals en route to a 4-1 victory over West Craven in a match Tuesday that pitted two unbeaten squads.

Jacksonville (10-0-1, 3-0), No. 1 in the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association 3-A rankings for the third consecutive week, found itself tied 1-1 at halftime against the up-and-coming Eagles (10-1, 2-1). However, the Cardinals outshot their Vanceboro opponents 10-0 in the second half to pull away from upset-minded West Craven, ninth in the 3-A polls.

"Yeah, it’s a relief to win, but it’s frustrating starting slow in the first half and letting teams hang around,” Jacksonville coach Dave Miller said. “It was a 1-1 game at half and we weren’t playing good, clean soccer. In the second half we played better soccer.”

West Craven, however, didn’t, coach Aaron Steele said.

“We knew they would make adjustments,” Steele said. “But I don’t think we had the same team in the second half. We are not a team with a lot of history and in the second half I think we got intimidated. We didn’t do the small technical things.”

The Cardinals controlled possession in the second half, but didn’t retake the lead until senior Ross Hagan’s second goal made it 2-1 with 26:51 remaining. Senior Cody Warf delivered a corner kick from the left side that was headed by senior Pat Lynch. The ball then fell in front to Hagan, who flicked it in past the goalkeeper.

“Patty hit the ball back in and I redirected it,” said Hagan, who earlier scored to give Jacksonville a 1-0 edge. “I was pretty excited.”

Hagan’s second-half goal appeared to rejuvenate the Cardinals. It took just 1:10 for sophomore Aaron Sparks to find the net off an assist from freshman Warren Washington. Hagan delivered a diagonal pass to the right side to Washington, who then sent a crossing pass to Sparks.

“We played like we were capable of in the second half,” Hagan said.

Warf then made it 4-1 with 2:38 left.

“Once we were ahead they (Eagles) starting opening it up a little bit,” Miller said.

But while possession considerably favored Jacksonville — the Cardinals finished with a 14-3 advantage in shots — that doesn’t mean West Craven never threatened.

Eagles senior Jaime Cortes gave Jacksonville several scares from his position up top. He was the only West Craven player to play that forward on the field, and an ability to counter-attack paid off once as he scored less than a minute after Hagan’s initial goal.

Cortes, who had five goals in a game this season, entered with 35 already, an average of 3.5 goals per game.

“It was difficult defending him,” Hagan said. “They (defenders) had to find him and stay on him the rest of the game.”

It was 1-1 midway through the first half when Cortes had two shots from inside the 18-yard box saved by Cardinals junior goalkeeper Holland Hammond.

Cortes’ first shot was an open shot from just a foot inside the 18 while his second attempt came on the rebound near the near post that was also blocked by the keeper. Those were the only two saves for Hammond.

"I don't like losing, but if people knew that we've only been around since 2004-05 ... than this was an amazing performance," Steele said.

Fortunately for the Cardinals their only breakdown didn’t affect them too much. They understood West Craven was a decent team, despite not playing a team with a winning record until Tuesday. The combined record for the Eagles going in was 35-59-11, as compared to 79-55-19 for Jacksonville.

“We did know they were 10-0 but that they hadn’t played (a tough schedule),” Hagan said. “But we take every game seriously.”


West Craven            1     0         1

Jacksonville            1     3         4

GOALS —W: Cortes. J: Hagan 2, Sparks, Warf. ASSISTS —J: Washington 2, Lynch. IN GOAL —W: Sam Mitchell (8 saves). J: Holland Hammond (2 saves). SHOTS ON GOAL —W 3, J 14. CORNER KICKS —W 0, J 7. RECORDS —W: 10-1, 2-1, hosts D.H. Conley Thursday. J: 10-0-1, 3-0, hosts Washington Thursday.

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