Prep girls soccer: South Rowan tops Carson, 3-1, in overtime
By David Shaw
CHINA GROVE — For nearly an hour Friday night, the South Rowan girls soccer team looked like a heavyweight about to hit the canvas.
The Raiders were playing a lot of kick-and-run, weren’t completing passes and found themselves a goal down midway through the second half of their SPC match at Carson.
“It was a little stressful,” junior defender Holiday Harvey said. “We really didn’t want to lose like that.”
They didn’t. Instead, South regrouped, refocused and used a just-add-water recipe to rally for a 3-1 overtime victory.
“We came out in the first half and didn’t have a high energy level,” second-year coach Kyle Neal said after South (5-2 overall) improved to 3-2 in league play. “Credit to Carson. They came at us and put us in a tough spot. We had beaten some teams that beat them, so I think our girls may have thought this one was already done.”
South got a second-half goal from Taylor Mauldin and overtime scores from freshman Madison Henry and junior Katelyn Goodman to prevail. But not of it seemed feasible after the Raiders barely survived the scoreless first half. Not once, but twice Carson (2-4, 2-3) put balls between South keeper Michelle Rivera and the goal line, only to be foiled by attentive defensive plays.
“We’ve had problems finishing,” said Carson coach Lauren West. “That’s been the story of our season. When you don’t finish opportunities that are given to you, you end up losing games.”
There were 17 minutes remaining in the first half when Carly Campbell’s corner kick from the left side ping-ponged off a couple of players on the doorstep, awaiting a Carson tip-in. The chance disappeared when South defender Leslie Sanchez swept it away from danger.
Then in the final 25 seconds of the opening half, Campbell took an outlet pass from midfielder Sarah Christy and broke in alone on Rivera from the right side. Her shot was initially caught before squirting free, giving a Campbell a second strike at the ball. She didn’t make solid contact and South’s Holiday Harvey gathered it less than three feet from the goal line.
“I saw in my mind that the ball was going to get past (Rivera),” said Harvey, a junior fullback. “The girl just hit it, but not very fast, and I was able to get there.”
When balls started crossing the line, it was Carson that scored first. Junior Hannah Smith took a feed from Emily Sloop and put the Cougars ahead with a high, 20-yard smash the eluded Rivera’s outstretched fingertips just 2:18 into the second half.
Carson had further reason to celebrate when keeper Montana Gurganious — playing just her second game in goal following an injury to first-stringer Maren Shumaker — stopped Mauldin’s penalty shot with 24 minutes remaining.
“When they call a PK, you automatically think the worst,” West said. “But Montana read it and made an incredible save. She came up huge for us.”
Mauldin got a measure of revenge three minutes later when her long shot from the right side skipped past Gurganious and tied the score. “I was on top of the 18 (yard line) and Rhiannon (Kimmer) had the ball,” Mauldin said after netting her second of the season. “She found me and I just shot it hard.”
South was at its high-energy best in the drizzle-plagued overtime periods. The Raiders went up, 2-1, following a Carson turnover in its own end at 2:17 of the first OT. Raquel Landaverde stole the ball from Carson defender Mia Trexler about 15 yards from the cage and slid a pass to unguarded Henry in front, who whipped a 10-yarder into the net for her 12th goal.
“Any good team is going to punish the other team’s mistakes,” said Neal, a former Carson assistant coach. “And when Madison gets free in front of the goal, she’s not going to miss more than twice.”
Smith indicated that some Carson players felt Henry may have been offside on the play, but no call was made. “She’s just a good player,” Smith said. “I’m not as quick as she is, so I have to rely on strength. You have to read the play and not let her beat you with her feet. You can’t stab.”
South bought some insurance five minutes later when Goodman launched a 50-yard shot that somehow bounced past Gurganious. The second OT period was all defense, controlled by South’s Harvey, Goodman, Sanchez and senior Madison Amico.
“It shouldn’t have even gone into overtime,” Harvey said afterward. “We should have played better in the first and second halves, but we got what we came for — a good win.”
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