Prep Soccer: West Rowan 3, Statesville 1: Falcons remain unbeaten in NPC
By Jon McCachren
STATESVILLE — West Rowan put together its best effort of the season Tuesday at the right time.
The Falcons took control of the North Piedmont Conference race, beating Statesville 3-1.
The Falcons (10-2-1, 7-0) set the tone early when Mariah Coleman beat the Greyhounds’ Maggie Rosser near the middle of the field and broke for the goal. Statesville keeper Emily Kesler came out to attack the break, but Coleman deftly sidestepped her and dribbled safely into the goal to lead 1-0 only 21/2 minutes into the game.
Statesville answered with 14:10 remaining in the half when Kathryn Bush shot the ball from 30 yards into the crossbar. It deflected straight down and bounced into the goal before the Falcons could capture it.
However, the Falcons’ Coleman struck again less than three minutes later when she placed a header into the net off an Allison Baucom pass.
“I’ve been challenging Mariah to score in big games and she has definitely come through for us thus far,” West coach Nick Brown said.
With 8:45 remaining in the half, Coleman placed a corner kick right to the head of the waiting Kayla Boley who gave West a 3-1 lead.
With a two-goal lead, Brown switched to defensive mode. He moved Baucom back to the defensive line to mark Abby Register, Statesville’s most explosive scorer.
“Abby was giving us a hard time back there and I was totally confident that Allison could shut her down” explained Brown afterward. “I wanted to wait until halftime to do it, but once we got a two goal lead and the momentum I didn’t want to give up a goal before half. So I told Allison to shut her down.”
The Falcons received a superior effort on defense for the remainder of the game. Janna Coleman and Mary McCachren on the wings attacked every possession and prevented the ball from coming into the box on a cross.
Baucom, Boley and Brittain Hendrickson clogged the lanes to prevent Statesville (5-7, 5-2) from having any open looks at the goal. Midfielders Rebecca Parker and Toni Lucente won the loose balls in the middle of the field. Statesville’s shots were hurried and pressured, easily picked off by Falcon goalkeeper Allison Bailey, who ended the game with 10 saves.
Brown pointed out the huge role played by Jessica Gibbons at forward.
“She was constantly pressuring the defenders into mistakes, which in turn, got us the ball back,” he said. “I believe it was because of some of Jessie’s pressure that Mariah was able to spring forward on that first goal.”
The Falcons are becoming feared for their smothering zone defense with man-on-man marks on dangerous scorers. They showed in the second half the full breadth of their ability to neutralize opponents.
“I thought our back line and goalkeeper were tremendous tonight,” Brown summarized. “They took everything that Statesville threw at them and turned it away. Statesville has 3-4 players going to play in college next year and we stood toe to toe with them. They can be a very dangerous team and they are well coached, which is why I am proud of my girls for playing hard all night and getting the win they deserved.”
NOTES: The Falcons won 1-0 on March 12 but Statesville’s Abby Register and Hannah Gaither did not play due to injury. … West plays host to South Rowan on April 16.