WENDELL — When Clayton soccer coach William Williams started the season, he knew he had a young roster that would need to mature quickly in order to compete in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference.
After a 3-0 win over East Wake – which is winless through three weeks overall and 0-4 in the conference – in which three different underclassmen scored every goal for Clayton (4-2-1, 3-0-1), Williams seemed pleased with his team’s growth over the last week.
“We are a very young team and I thought it was a good game by the team,” he said. “We’re a young squad, but we have great attitudes. They passed the ball better than they have all season tonight and that’s what you need.”
After the Comets possessed the ball for most of the first half of Wednesday’s game, they were unable to find the back of the net – that was until freshman Claudia Woznichak got free.
Woznichak, who was the leading scorer, darted past her defender on the right side of the pitch and struck the ball past Warrior keeper Dre Todd just inside the left post to give the Comets a 1-0 lead at the half.
“That goal was so big for not only us, but for (Woznichak) as well,” Williams said. “She was out for two weeks with an injury and scores the first goal for us. She did the same thing against Harnett Central in overtime.”
For both teams, the goalies were transcendent. While Clayton’s keeper Lauryn Kabrich looked like she had the more dominant performance on paper with her fifth shutout of the season, Todd was flying all over the place in order to limit the Comets – who scored nine goals on Monday against Southeast Raleigh – to just three goals.
Kabrich has yet to give up a goal in conference play and the Comets have only won when the junior has recorded a shutout. As for Todd, Williams said he changed his approach offensively to attack the Warriors’ senior captain.
“I told my girls before the game that any goal we scored on (Todd) was because we passed well,” he said. “There is nothing that comes easy when you are going against her.”
Both goals in the second half for the Comets came off of perfect passes. Junior Emilie Alioto fed the ball to freshman Everett Biggs, who drilled a one-timer and crossed up Todd. The final goal came in the final three minutes, when freshman Chelsie China saved the ball from going out and centered it to freshman Lauren Daniels, who put in the final goal.
Room for improvement
The central focus for the Warriors moving forward will be finding consistency on both ends of the field. East Wake struggled with finding scoring opportunities and couldn’t get turnovers defensively to set up any chances on the other end.
While first-year coach Crystal Espey knows her team is missing five players due to concussion – including leading scorer Mackenzie Gairrett and centerback Mercedez Sanderson – she said her team is still trying to find a groove.
“Not having a consistent team makes it really tough,” she said. “We’re working on our first touch, getting the ball in the air and movement off the ball. If we can work on those three things, then we’ll be successful.”