RONDA — The East Wilkes Lady Cardinals soccer team opened up its 2018 season on Monday night against North Iredell. The Cardinals put up a tough fight, but the Raiders were able to take a 3-1 win.
“I thought we did well,” said East Wilkes head coach Rodney Wagoner. “I’ve had two practices with my whole team, so I was moving people around trying to figure out who was going to play where. I did a lot of that. I used tonight as a scrimmage, more or less. Things started to settle down in the second half, I didn’t do quite as much subbing. I still saw some things that I wanted to move around more, and just figure it out. I’m still figuring my team out.”
In the first half, North Iredell maintained the majority of the offensive pressure. The East Wilkes defense was able to stand strong and hold off any attacks for the first 10 minutes. East Wilkes goalkeeper Anna Parks put on a performance as she was able to stop several shots from hitting the back of the net. It was after the Raiders kept going at goal, that the ball was able to break through. With 25:38 left in the first half, North Iredell was able to find its first goal of the night. The Raiders put up a shot that found its way through the Cardinals’ back line, and made the score 1-0.
As time went on, East Wilkes’ defense was still holding a strong back line. Leah Nance was able to track back and keep the Raiders from advancing into the 18-yard box on several occasions. With 23:19 left in the first, Parks found a save that kept the score 1-0. North Iredell had a two-on-one situation against East Wilkes, but Parks was able to defend the ball well as she dove to the right to stop the ball from hitting the net.
Before the half was over, North Iredell was able to put another goal into the back of the net. The Raiders had a 2-0 lead over East Wilkes at halftime.
In the second half, Ciara Pierce was able to get a shot off on goal for the Cardinals. Pierce found a breakaway, but the North Iredell goalie was able to make a smooth save to keep the score 2-0. North Iredell went on a breakaway in the 50th minute which saw the Raiders put the ball into the back of the net. With the score sitting 3-0, the Lady Cardinals didn’t give up and kept fighting for every ball.
Sheila Aguilar was able to find a shot with 16 minutes left in the game. Aguilar lined up from over 20 yards out and let the ball fly, just as it looked like the ball was going into the net, it hit the crossbar and bounced back onto the field. The missed shot gave East Wilkes extra momentum as the Cardinals desperately wanted the put a ball into the back of the net.
In the 78th minute, the Lady Cardinals were able to come through and knock in their first goal of the night, and the first East Wilkes goal of the season. Aguilar called for the ball from Pierce, and made an overlapping run. Pierce made a crisp pass, which found the feet of Aguilar. Aguilar was able to put the ball on her dominate foot and sent the ball sailing into the back of the net for a Cardinals goal.
“It felt great,” said Aguilar. “To score the first goal of the season was pretty cool. I saw my teammate had it and I thought she should pass the ball, and she did. I had to run as fast as I could because they were getting close to me, and I shot as hard as I could into the goal. I was surprised because the first shot of the night I had hit the post and then this one went in.”
“(The goal) was great. She called for the ball and got the overlap,” said Wagoner. “CC and Sheila are going to connect all season long, at least I hope they do. I hope we continue to put goals away.”
As the game came to a close, the Cardinals had successfully put one goal in the back of the net. North Iredell was able to hang on to take a 3-1 win over East Wilkes.
“We’ve got another game next Tuesday so I have five days of practice. We are going to work on things that we just don’t know how to do,” said Wagoner. “We’ve got to work on goal kicks, throw-ins, defending corners and taking corners. It’s those little things that I’ve not had time to go over with them, so they were kind of winging it on their own tonight. I think they did pretty good.”
East Wilkes will play March 13 at home against North Wilkes. Kick-off is set for 5:15 p.m.