WENDELL — A wise person once said to never judge a book by its cover, for appearances can be deceiving.
Corinth Holders girls soccer coach Alison Vetterl believes the same principle should be applied when examining the level of her team’s play in its 5-1 loss to conference champion Roanoke Rapids Thursday night.
Despite missing out on a chance to share the conference crown with Roanoke Rapids – and witnessing the Yellow Jackets’ Veronica Edmonds score all five of the team’s goals – there were a lot of positives to take away from the Pirates’ loss.
“I really feel that was the best game we have played all season long as a unit,” Vetterl said of her team’s performance.
“The togetherness was there; the communication was there.
“The score, to me, does not reflect on what the turnout of the game was.”
A Tall Task: Roanoke Rapids, 13-3-1, wrapped up its fourth consecutive conference title with the win to cap a perfect 10-0 run through the Northern Carolina Conference in which the Yellow Jackets outscored their opponents 66-7, including seven shutouts.
Predictable, Yet Unstoppable: There was no confusion in who the Yellow Jackets were trying to get the ball to; the Roanoke Rapids defenders and midfielders kicked the ball over the Pirates’ defense for any chance they could get to link up with star senior forward, Veronica Edmonds.
Three of Edmonds’ goals came from connecting to the end of long balls played up toward her; she converted breakaways into goals.
The speedy and physical Edmonds also found the back of the net on a direct free kick, as well as another breakaway that started after she intercepted a Pirates’ pass in their defensive third of the field.
A Beautiful Goal: Corinth Holders struck back after Edmonds had put the Yellow Jackets up 2-0 in the first half.
Defender Amanda Eckard won possession of the ball near midfield, carried the ball up and around a pair of Roanoke Rapids midfielders, and then slotted the ball out wide to Brooke Tyler.
Tyler lulled her defender with a hesitation move before getting to the end line and serving up a cross, and Felice Hewitt rammed into the back of the net.
“The goal that we had was beautifully set up,” said Vetterl.
“The cross from the left side from Brooke Tyler to Felice Hewitt, who headed it in, was beautiful.”
Turning Point: After Hewitt’s goal, Corinth Holders had all of the momentum – until Natalie Browne sent a through pass behind the Pirates defense. There, Edmonds received it and beat out Pirates’ goalie Rachel Witkin, with just 1:22 left before halftime.
Corinth Holders was unable to create any more scoring chances the rest of the game.
Bright Spots: Witkin kept the Pirates (12-4, 8-2) in the contest as long as she could.
The freshman goalkeeper withstood the Yellow Jackets’ pressure well and registered nine saves with seven that came from point blank range.
“She stepped in and did a great job for us,” Vetterl said of her keeper. “I expected to see some nervousness from her, but I never did. She made some outstanding saves.”
Vetterl also applauded the play of midfielder Anna Capps. Capps was asked to play a more defensive role than usual to try to stop the high-powered Yellow Jackets’ attack.
Bella Iorio also did a nice job in building the Pirates’ own attack.
The ‘New’ Season: Corinth Holders earned the No. 2 seed from the NCC by virtue of finishing alone in second place.
Seniors Morgan Hester and the Tylers – Brandi, Brittany and Brooke – will see at least one more game at home. The Pirates will open up the state 2A playoffs at home this week.
“We’re just going to have our ups and downs, but at this point, it’s a new season,” Vetterl said.
“I told them to build on this game, and we just move forward from here.”