Clinton hosted a third round 2A playoff match against the North Carolina School of Science and Math on Wednesday night. A large crowd showed up at the Dark Horse Soccer complex to watch the fourth seeded Lady Dark Horses take on the fifth seeded Lady Unicorns. Clinton set the tone early, dominating the first ten minutes of the match and eventually overpowered the visitors for a 7-0 win.
“I hardly recognized that team for the first ten minutes tonight, they played the best tonight they have all year”, gushed an excited Clinton head coach, Jeff Smith after the match. The Lady Dark Horses attacked early but came up short, missing a couple of early opportunities but they established the pace of play and put tremendous pressure on the NCSSM defense.
Clinton drew first blood twenty-two minutes into the contest when Ashlyn Williams took a pass from Alaina Capps and fired the ball past the charging Lady Unicorn goal keeper, putting the Lady Dark Horses on top at 1-0. The Lady Unicorns settled down and finally got off a couple of shots against Clinton’s goal but each attempt was turned back by the Lady Dark Horse defense which pitched it’s third consecutive playoff shutout.
Clinton’s Elizabeth Coleman gave the home team a 2-0 lead at the 33:27 mark when Alaina Capps found her in the box with a well played pass that Coleman quickly converted into a Clinton score. NCSSM was able to turn back several more threats late in the first frame, and limped to halftime. All things considered the Lady Unicorns had to feel fortunate to only be down by two goals the way Clinton dominated the first half.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors early in the second half. Just over ten minutes into the half Clinton’s Ashlyn Williams juked a defender along the right wing with a highlight reel move, and fired a pass into the box that found Alaina Capps. With quick twitch, Capps headed the ball over the goalie and into the nets for a 3-0 lead. The goal energized the Clinton fans and seemed to send Capps on a scoring Frenzy.
Capps added three more goals in quick fashion scoring at 59:47 assisted by Katey Yang, at 71:23 off an Ashlyn Williams pass and at 73:31 assisted again by Yang to lift Clinton to a 6-0 advantage and put an end to any hopes the Lady Unicorns had of mounting a comeback. Halla Gilpin capped the Clinton scoring outbreak when she rushed forward from her defensive position to take a pass from Katey Yang and power past a defender and the NCSSM goal keeper to score the seventh goal of the game.
Clinton coach Jeff Smith continued to applaud his team after the game, adding, “the girls have really started doing the things we have been asking them to do all year and it is paying off. We have scored twelve goals in the last three halves of play against some pretty good competition.”
Clinton will face top seeded Carrboro in the fourth round and Smith knows his team will have to perform at a very high level to have a chance. “We will have to be at our very best to beat Carrboro, they are a very good soccer team, but our girls are playing very good soccer right now so we have a chance” continued Smith.
Carrboro advanced to the fourth round with a 5-0 shutout of Midway on Wednesday night. The Lady Jags are 18-1-2 on the season and boast the top seed in the 2A playoff bracket. Clinton runs its record to 21-5 with the win over NCSSM and will be making their second consecutive trip to the fourth round when they travel to Carrboro.
Details on the schedule for the fourth round game were not available at press time but it appears the match will be played on Saturday in Carrboro. Clinton’s athletic department should have details by Friday afternoon, and they will be posted on Twitter @ac4birdie.
Reach Mike Carter at [email protected]