WENDELL — It took nearly 70 minutes before either team could find the net, but when the gate swung open, it opened wide for East Wake.
The Warriors (2-2 overall, 1-1 Greater Neuse River 4A Conference) scored their first goal in the 68th minute of Thursday night’s game against Smithfield-Selma and went on to win a 3-0 decision over the Spartans in a game that was much more evenly contested than the final score would indicate.
East Wake senior Kalyn Johnson broke the scoreless log jam with 12:25 remaining after she scooped up a loose ball in front of the net and put it past Spartan goalkeeper Caroline Carter.
Almost before the East Wake fans could sit back down, the Warriors notched another goal on a free kick by Ashton Cannon that sailed over the wall and past the outstretched hands of Carter with 9:01 left. Cannon’s free kick came after Alexis Montague was tripped just outside the box by a Smithfield-Selma defender.
Johnson finished the scoring at the 6:04 mark after a flurry of give-and-go passing between her and Corey Jones allowed her to break free of defenders for a shot from 25 yards out. The goal was Johnson’s fifth in two days, following the hat trick she registered against Rolesville High School on Wednesday night.
Smithfield-Selma (0-2 overall) of the Two Rivers 3A Conference kept East Wake’s offense bottled up for most of the game. The Spartans kept the ball in the middle of the field for much of the first half with a handful of parries into the East Wake defensive zone, but Smithfield-Selma couldn’t come away with anything to show for its efforts on the offensive end.
When East Wake managed to get the ball into the Spartan defensive zone, Smithfield-Selma coach Kristian Stewart said his team gave up too many 50-50 balls.
“We needed to win more of those kinds of balls. We did better in the second half, but that puts a lot of pressure on the defense when it keeps happening,” Stewart said.
East Wake coach Crystal Espey echoed a similar refrain.
“I think we kept the pressure on and when we finally broke through, we loosened up,” Espey said. She said her club’s effort to control the ball paid dividends against the Spartans.
“There were still times when we were just a step or two off, but we did a much better job than we’ve been doing,” Espey said.
Whitfield: 919-829-4823; Twitter: @easternwakenews