After something of a stagnant first 40 minutes, the Red Wolves kicked it into high gear.
The Cedar Ridge girls’ soccer squad shut out Southern Durham 6-0 on Wednesday, March 25, following a 1-0 lead at half.
“Second half obviously was better than the first,” Coach P.J. Michaelson said. “We just could not find the back of the net in the first half; we hit the goalkeeper’s face, the crossbar, the side bar—I mean just everywhere but the back of the net. If it hadn’t been for Micaela [Jackson], it would’ve been tied at halftime. So second half obviously much better than the first. We scored 15 goals this week, so we’re getting there. It’s starting to come.”
The first half proved a battle. Though the Red Wolves launched several promising shots toward the goal, none managed to break past the Spartan’s keeper. Southern Durham had opportunities of their own, hammering through the Cedar Ridge defense. But freshman Taylin Jean held strong in goal, scooping up shots made soft by hard pressure from her teammates.
With 11 minutes left in the first half, senior Micaela Jackson finally broke through, knocking the ball past the keeper on a lead pass and putting the Red Wolves on the board.
In the second half, the Red Wolves wasted no time. Four minutes in, senior Alexis Zielke hit a chip shot over the goalie to extend the lead to two.
Just eight minutes later, Jackson converted on a rebound shot—after Southern Durham denied several attempts from other forwards—making the count 3-0. Sophomore Hannah Spear followed with a laser from the top of the goalie box not 10 seconds later.
“We were getting ready for Chapel Hill tomorrow, so we stayed in the four back, and then we switched to the three-four-three and put some more pressure on them,” Michaelson said. “I think that’s finally what broke them was putting another attacker up there. But I think also just intensity and effort was there. Finally in the second half it was not giving 90 percent but 100 percent.”
With 24 minutes left in the game, Jackson connected on a header from Zielke’s corner kick, putting the score at 5-0. At 22 minutes, another shot off the head of Kaylee Herbst, a sophomore, on a corner kick cemented the score at 6-0.
“It was rough at first, but we definitely picked it up and got ourselves together,” Jackson said. “… The second half it still wasn’t as good as we can play, but we kind of broke out of their pattern and played our game.”
Other than pure offensive execution, the Red Wolves said they also saw some improvement on maintaining and regaining possession, something they’ve been working on in practice.
“It’s kind of like the moment we lose the ball, the entire team needs to be working for seven seconds to get it back,” Zielke said. “We’ve actually really improved on that a lot, but we still have lots of things to work towards.”
One of those things, of course, remains finding the back of the net consistently.
“We finished very well Monday, [March 23], against Northern Vance, and it was just an off day for us up top [against Southern Durham],” Michaelson said. “It helps having two seniors who are going to score five goals for you, and then our center back coming up and scoring on a corner is always great. So finishing, but I think the defensive and offensive intensity is starting to pick up. If we can keep that going, I think we’ll be good.”