KENLY — As the Corinth Holders and North Johnston girls soccer teams took the pitch Wednesday night in Kenly, the game marked the beginning of each club’s final foray into Northern Carolina 2A Conference play.
With the Pirates headed to the Johnston County-infused Two Rivers 3A Conference and the Panthers set to begin play next season in the 2A Eastern Plains league, this last run through the NCC will serve as a chance for each squad to make a lasting mark before realignment takes effect.
For third year program Corinth Holders, the Pirates solidified an impressive start to conference play with a 10-1 defeat over the Panthers in a year that has the purple and gold’s sights set at the very top of the league.
“As far as the mark we want to leave, we obviously want to come out on the top of this conference,” Pirates coach Alison Vetterl said. “I feel that if we play the way we’re capable of and play with the intensity, desire and the want to win. … I think we could push through.”
Corinth Holders (3-1 overall, 2-0 conference) finished its inaugural season second to last in the NCC but finished second only to Roanoke Rapids last season.
After delivering an 8-0 thumping to Bunn in the Pirates’ conference opener just a couple days prior, Corinth Holders continued to light up the scoreboard against the Panthers. A dynamic Pirates’ offensive attack that originated from varying parts of the field but yet mostly all ended in the back of the net saw five different players tally goals.
Junior forward Felice Hewitt earned a hat trick scoring all three of her goals in the opening half. Allie O’Hara added a pair of goals and a pair of assists. Morgan Hester and Bella Iorio each added two goals apiece and Tally Pavel finished the scoring with a goal as well.
Chemistry figures to be key for Corinth Holders this season for a possible run to the top of the league as many of the players have been together since middle school.
“The cohesiveness is there,” Vetterl said. “We just want to fight every single time we’re out on the field.”
The fight that North Johnston coach Mark Ketterer is looking for from his team came in the most unlikely of places in a lopsided defeat: in goal.
Freshman goalkeeper Morgan Foster came up with 14 saves including a pair of stops that came from point blank range on Pirate breakaways.
“She has kept us in games and she will continue to do that,” Ketterer said of his young goalie. “She loves being back there so hopefully we won’t disappoint her much.
“She’s definitely a bright spot.”
Whereas chemistry is in abundance and key for the Pirates to contend with Roanoke Rapids for a conference crown, it’s something that Ketterer looks to as being the ultimate goal in this, the Panthers’ last season in the NCC.
“We’re going to need a lot of teamwork,” Ketterer added. “Right now we’re a bunch of individuals and we’re playing like individuals. We need to come together as a team.”
Samantha Richardson got North Johnston on the board early in the second half when she converted a nice through ball from Chandler Hines into the Panthers’ lone goal of the match.
Hines, Richardson and Morgan Townsend form the nucleus for a Panthers team that will look to create an identity that will endure whatever the name of the conference.