Prep Soccer: Lucente scores goals No. 97, 98 as unbeaten West Rowan rolls
MOUNT ULLA — Happy endings are a tricky business, whether you’re an inspired script writer or a high school girls soccer coach.
West Rowan’s Nick Brown tried to be both Wednesday night.
“I thought it would have been fun,” Brown said moments after the second-ranked Falcons clinched their third straight North Piedmont Conference title with a 9-0 mercy-rule win against visiting East Rowan. “But we played well. We played the right way. We weren’t trying to force the ball to any one player.”
The one player he meant was guest-of-honor Toni Lucente, the West senior who needed four goals to reach 100 in a rainbow-colored career. Brown had planned to stop the game, mark the occasion and present Lucente with the game ball.
“It would have just added to everything that’s going on,” she said. “This being Senior Night and Relay (For Life) Week, it would have been a great finish. But it just turn out that way.”
Instead, Lucente notched her 97th and 98th career goals as the Falcons (14-0, 10-0) outshot East 18-3 and recorded their ninth shutout.
“West Rowan has tons of weapons all around the field,” East coach Megan Smith said after the youthful Mustangs (0-14, 0-10) were overmatched in both ends. “It’s very hard for a program with mostly underclassmen to compete with players like Toni — who is going to a Division II school (Wingate) to play — and Mariah (Coleman), who will play in college. And then there’s (Kayla) Boley and the defense, which is technically and tactically sound. We can’t compete with that yet.”
East’s problems started before the opening whistle. An injury to starting keeper Kennedy Lambert, a sophomore who will try out for the state games later this month, meant senior midfielder Amber Ritchie would make her first start of the season. And while Ritchie made eight saves in her debut, she was shaky-at-best as half of West’s 14 first-half shots found the back of the net.
“We didn’t expect to get up so quick,” Boley explained. “But we were coming off a good game Monday (a 2-0 win against Carson) and just came in ready to go.”
Boley’s younger sister Kelly, a sophomore forward, opened the scoring before the match was three minutes old. She took a diagonal feed from Coleman and netted her second goal a minute later.
“With an injured goalkeeper, we were just hoping to slow them down,” said East freshman Susan Barker-Fowler. “Something we’re working on in the back is communicating better, but that’s something we didn’t do very well tonight.”
Next up for the Falcons was Lucente, who scored her 19th and 20th goals of the spring about four minutes apart. First she beat Ritchie with a sharp grounder from the left side. Then she put one of her Globetrotter moves on an East defender, raced down the right side and pumped a 15-yard shot into the net.
“Just working together, connecting on passes,” said Meagan Osian, one of three West seniors recognized during a brief halftime ceremony. “Toni does it all. I don’t know if she knew exactly how many goals she had, but she knew she was close.”
Brown called off the charge — and Lucente’s pursuit of 100 — after West stretched its lead to 7-0 at halftime. “At first I was like, ‘Let’s get it tonight,’” he said. “But after 10 minutes it was 4-0 and I thought, ‘Let’s not force it. She’ll get it when she gets it.’”
Coleman’s second goal gave WR an 8-0 lead early in the second half and Kayla Boley — the team’s defensive stalwart — ended the match when she scored on a free kick about 15 minutes into the second half. She has scored twice on headers this season, but this was the first time she’s used her foot.
West plays a barometer game at Forbush (16-0), an elite 2A school, at 7 tonight. “I don’t care who scores (tonight),” Lucente said. “As long as we win.”