Salisbury comes from behind, beats Knights on PKs

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, March 27, 2019

By David Shaw

SALISBURY — It’s beginning to look like the Salisbury girls soccer team isn’t going away.

The unbeaten Hornets submitted more evidence Wednesday night at Ludwig Stadium, where they rallied from two goals behind in the second half to beat North Davidson, 4-3. The outcome wasn’t decided until sophomore keeper Caroline Clark made a sprawling, one-handed save in the fifth and final round of penalty kicks.

“If there was ever a time for us to fold one in, that was it,” coach Matt Parrish said, shortly after league-leading Salisbury (9-0 overall) improved to 7-0 in the Central Carolina Conference. “Down 3-1 with 17 minutes left, people start to doubt and question each other and question me. But they didn’t. When things got the toughest, they stuck together.”

Salisbury used late goals by Lilly Rusher and Sutton Webb to force overtime, then outscored the Black Knights 3-2 in the shootout.

“I’m just proud of our team,” said Rusher, a sophomore defender. “When we were losing 3-1 we really came together. We knew this was our time.”

Losing coach Scott Beckom said possession-oriented North (6-2, 5-2) lost some of its pugnacity after Rusher buried a PK that made it a one-goal match with 16:58 remaining.

“It’s all a process,” he said. “One of the things you have to prepare for is protecting a two-goal lead with time running out. We played better when we were more aggressive and attacking. When we tried to chill it down, we let them back in the game.”

Salisbury caught up with 10:56 to play. Webb scored her second of the night when she beat a defender down the left sideline, approached North keeper Madison Musgrave and spun a hard grounder into the lower right corner.

“We just really wanted to win,” Webb, a freshman speedster, said. “I was doing whatever it took to get the ball into the back of the net.”

North built its lead on a first-half goal by Kinley Thompson and second-half scores by Katie Hill and Emma Berrier. Hill converted a penalty kick following a questionable hand-ball call against Salisbury defender Clara Brown in the game’s 47th minute. Berrier pushed the lead to 3-1 three minutes later on an indirect kick from five yards away — awarded when Clark illegally fielded a back-pass from teammate Olivia Dagenhart.

“What a bizarre game,” Parrish made it known. “Two penalty kicks. The weird indirect kick. And Caroline making the save of the night to end it. Maybe she felt like she owed us one.”

Each team managed three routine shots during the two five-minute overtime periods. In the round of penalty kicks, Piper Muire put Salisbury ahead when she sent an off-speed grounder past Musgrave into the lower left corner. North squared it on Hannah Baker’s high shot that deflected off the crossbar and fell behind Clark. Rusher made it 2-1 and Anna Grace Woolly stretched it to 3-1 with a blast into the right side. North’s Kate Wells then fired a shot that ricochetted off Clark’s fingertips into the cage, setting the scene for Clark’s game-clinching save. On a wicked shot by ND’s Emma Craver, she dove to her left and diverted the ball away.

“They always tell you to pick a side if you’re not sure,” Clark said, after finishing with six saves. “I actually guessed wrong. I was going to my right until the last split-second. I just saw something and was quick enough on my feet to change directions.”

Rusher believes it had something to do with eating chicken nuggets before the match. “She made four out of four saves on PKs in practice (Tuesday),” she explained. “And it was all because of the chicken.”

Parrish won’t argue with Clark’s pre-game ritual. “She’s got a lot or pressure on her,” he said. “But that save at the very end is the only one I really want to talk about. It was a humongous confidence-booster for her, for the girls’ perception of her, her perception of herself and her allness in general.”

When the fires were doused and the smoke cleared, Beckom still wore a post-game smile. “It’s a good team over there,” he said, motioning toward the SHS sideline. “But for the first time, we weren’t scared to play them. We’re young and don’t have that swag yet, but you can’t feel bad about tonight. It just didn’t happen for us.”

It did for the Hornets.

“We did a good job keeping our heads up and not getting discouraged,” said Clark. “We fought together, right until the last seconds.”

NOTES: Webb has scored in every Salisbury match and has 20 goals. Her first of the night came off a lovely centering pass from teammate Ellen Simons. … SHS held an 18-14 edge in shots. Musgrave, a freshman, made 13 saves. … Salisbury is 28-0-1 in conference matches since falling, 4-1, at West Davidson on April 27, 2016. … Both teams have crucial conference matches scheduled tonight. The Hornets visit East Davidson and North hosts Central Davidson.