Salisbury, West Davidson play scoreless tie

Published 11:03 pm Thursday, April 7, 2022

By David Shaw

SALISBURY — It was a clash of CCC titans that could have gone either way Thursday night at Ludwig Stadium.

Instead, it went neither way. The girls soccer teams representing West Davidson and Salisbury spent two halves and two overtime periods trading near-misses and could-have-beens — with sole possession of first place up for grabs — only to finish in a scoreless tie.

“Against a team that’s been dominating our league and undefeated, we kept a shutout,” Salisbury coach Matt Parrish said after the second-place Hornets (10-1-1, 5-1-1 CCC) began the second half of their conference schedule with a determined effort. “We’ve played them twice, 100 minutes tonight and 80 minutes the last time (a 1-0 loss on March 28), and there’s been one goal scored — on a set piece, no less. They dared us to beat them 10 v. 9, giving us a 10 v. 9 advantage, and it worked.”

Parrish was referencing a successful strategy employed by the league-leading Dragons (12-0-1, 4-0-1), who played phone-booth defense against SHS scoring wizard Sutton Webb. The senior was routinely double- and triple-teamed, but still got loose for a couple of primo scoring opportunities after halftime.

“It’s nothing new against West Davidson,” she explained. “Every time we’ve played them, I’m double-teamed. Sometimes they get the best of me and sometimes I get the best of them.”

West coach Chris Brown, now in his 15th season on the sideline, called Webb “Salisbury’s X-factor,” and focused on swarming and frustrating her in any way possible.

“It was effective for us,” Brown said. “That’s how we did it the first game. You can’t let her run free. She’s too good. She doesn’t have 130 goals for nothing.”

Sutton came close to netting at least two more. In the game’s 69th minute she unloaded a 30-yard shot from the right side that skidded just inches wide of the left post.

“It felt like a good strike to me,” she said with a post-game grin. “This time of year, there may be some mounds on the field. I guess it just had a little too much spin on it. Of course, I was aiming for the goal.”

Only 5:15 remained in regulation when free-wheeling midfielder Allie Brown — Coach Brown’s free-wheeling daughter and a 12-goal scorer this spring — blasted a shot from the left flank that sprawling Salisbury goalkeeper Hannah Schmeltzer fingered away from danger.

“It’s crazy because I could tell by her body language that she touched it,” said Parrish. “But I couldn’t really see it. It was that minimal a touch.”

Both Schmeltzer and West keeper Bree Blankenship — a junior who has surrendered only one goal in 13 games — were still pitching shutouts as the first 10-minute overtime period wound down. There were 45 seconds on the clock when Salisbury’s Madelyne Lawrence was called for a questionable, doorstep foul against West freshman Lilllian Benton. The referee awarded the Dragons a penalty kick and they summoned heavy-footed defender Allesandra Lopez to the PK line.

“It’s a scary moment when the game is on the line like that,” Schmeltzer said. “Normally I pick a side to defend on PK’s. Everything in me said she was going to go that way.”

Her intuition proved correct, but when Lopez fired a low shot off the left post, Schmeltzer had prevailed. Then early in the second OT, Webb was denied from close range. “I think Angie (Garcia) got in the way on the back line and held the ball up for me. I struck that one with my left foot, but it didn’t go.”

Down the stretch, both teams seemed to be gassed. By the time this meeting was adjourned, Salisbury — though not triumphant — had at least slowed a team that hasn’t been bested all season.

“We didn’t lose,” Parrish concluded, “to an undefeated team that’s top three in 2A-West right now. If you told me last year — with the players we were about to lose to graduation — that we’d be 10-1-1 today, you gotta take that. That’s solid.”

NOTES:  Both teams were playing for the second straight night. West beat North Rowan, 9-0, in a 40-minute laugher on Wednesday. Salisbury, where high expectation is a pre-requisite to high achievement, was trying to rebound from a disappointing 2-0 win over Lexington. …  The Hornets are idle until April 13, when they host North’s Cavaliers in the third match of a four-game homestand. West Davidson will entertain South Davidson on Monday.