Freshmen score two goals as Bulldogs oust Easton
RIDGELY — The momentum swings poured much like Friday’s rain when North Caroline High’s girls’ soccer team hosted Easton in a Class 2A East Section II quarterfinal.
In a matchup between two schools rich in history, it was freshmen from North Caroline that gave the Bulldogs the edge on the way to a 3-2 victory. Freshman Hailey Chester scored the game-winner, and fellow rookie Sydney Baker added a score. North Caroline homecoming queen Kylie Phillips also added a goal.
Fourth-seeded North Caroline (9-4) will play at top seed Kent Island (10-3) on Tuesday in the regional semifinals.
“It was a great team effort,” Bulldog head coach Joe Bildstein said. “I’ve got a bunch of awesome girls. We had two freshmen score. That shows our team being a team.
“The weather didn’t really seem to affect the game until the very end,” Bildstein added. “But the girls on each team played phenomenal in some tough conditions. Just a phenomenal soccer game.”
Earlier in the season, the Warriors fell to North Caroline 5-1, but the regular-season defeat was inconsequential as Easton attacked from the outset.
Lily Osborne, Cat Christian and Miranda Walton each created scoring chances in the opening minutes for the Warriors (7-6). In the fifth minute, Osborne fired a shot but North Caroline goalie Alyssa Deck made the save. When North Caroline pushed forward, Easton’s midfielders regained possession, and pushed the ball back into the offensive end.
Easton goalkeeper Kate Southworth was called up from the junior varsity just a day earlier, and got the starting nod because of an injury to starting goalie Jess Millard. Southworth made seven saves.
The Warriors broke the scoreless tie in the 20th minute when Christian’s shot was saved by Deck, and Osborne swooped in and knocked in the rebound for a 1-0 lead.
“I’m really proud of the team,” Easton head coach Elle Pennington said. “It was the first thing I told them when they got off the field. I could not have asked any more of them for this last game. They put their hearts on the line.”
The Bulldogs countered the score with crisp passes between freshman Jordan Schaetzly, Chester and senior Alexa Lawton to get NC’s attack going.
Easton tried to clear but Sarah Ferkler switched fields from left to right with a crossing pass. NC began working the right side when the homecoming queen delivered.
Phillips got the ball on her foot from 30 yards away and took a big shot that found the back of the net to tie the score at 1-1 in the 24th minute. The midfielder is known for her big leg as she scored a similar goal in 2017 against the Warriors.
Twice the Bulldogs broke ties with goals from its rookie class. With five minutes left before halftime, senior Rebecca Gibbons
sent a lead pass from the right wing into the box. Baker redirected the ball with a header for a goal and a 2-1 halftime lead.
Easton pushed the attack at the start of the second half. Christian found space in the 42nd minute to get a breakaway, but was taken down in the box to earn a penalty kick, which she converted for a 2-2 tie.
“Easton played a great game. Take nothing away from them,” Bildstein said. “They had a great game plan for us. Cat is a phenomenal player for them.”
North Caroline countered. Ferkler dished to Lawton it the box, but Lawton’s shot sailed high of the net.
Easton came right back two minutes later when Julia Hammons created an opening for a shot, but Deck made the save to preserve the tie. The game remained tied until the 57th minute.
North Caroline sophomore Corinne Webb started a break by dishing to Schaetzly along the right sideline. Schaetzly delivered a strong lead pass in the box to Baker, whose shot was saved by Southworth.
Chester corralled the rebound, and scored for a 3-2 Bulldog lead.
Easton continued to attack, but its attempts to tie the score were denied. Emily Strother created a clearing with six minutes left. She fired a shot from the left wing but Deck made a diving save.
With under three minutes to go, Megan Kolakowski sent a lead pass down the right sideline. Walton gathered in the pass, drove toward net, but her shot sailed wide right.
The attempt was the Warriors’ final scoring chance. North Caroline kept possession around midfield as the clock ticked off its final seconds.
North Caroline’s Hailey Chester (7) scored the game-winning goal in the Bulldogs’ 3-2 victory over Easton Friday, Oct. 26.
North Caroline’s Corinne Webb drives through the middle against Easton.
North Caroline’s Pearl Sutton, right, leads the break against Easton.