As quickly as the N.C. School of Science & Math girls soccer surrendered the first goal to Durham School of the Arts, the Unicorns rebounded with three goals before halftime and held on for a 3-2 victory on Thursday.
Science & Math got two goals in quick succession and then added one more before the intermission as Sydney Hafner, Hongkun Lu and Carla Escobar-Tomlienovich tallied for the Unicorns (8-1-1, 7-0-1 Northern Carolina 2A), who took control of the conference race.
Science & Math coach Joe Shields said winning the game was an important step for his team but they still have a lot of the season left before the playoffs start. Science & Math has games remaining with Roanoke Rapids in a home-and-home series, at Bunn, which tied the Unicorns earlier this season and is the second-highest scoring team in the Northern Carolina Conference, and at home against Franklinton to wrap up the regular season.
DSA (11-2, 7-2), which is solidly in second place in the conference, suffered only its second loss of the season but both have come against Science & Math.
It appeared DSA was going to avenge its earlier setback to Unicorns as they got an early tally. Sophomore Nona Borden struck for her team-high 30th goal less than five minutes into the contest.
“We knew this was for the conference,” Shields said. “And give our team credit for not putting their heads down after giving up the early goal. They came back with three goals. What a way to answer. They fought hard. After we got the first one, they realized we were in the game.”
But the Bulldogs had a series of defensive lapses that allowed Science & Math to first tie the match and then take the lead.
DSA coach Amy Green said the first goal her squad surrendered wasn’t as upsetting as the last two.
“The first one came with so much time and it was only to tie,” Green said. “Then we fell asleep for a few minutes and that’s when they came back. We had to fight out of a hole from there, which is never a good thing.”
In the second half, DSA was clearly on the offensive. The Bulldogs carried the play and had numerous scoring opportunities before Ashling Alvarez, who arguably is the shortest player on DSA’s squad, headed in a corner kick for a goal to cut the Science & Math margin to 3-2.
“We started off really strong,” Alvarez said. “When they scored on us, we lost our confidence. The first half wasn’t our half. The second half, we got more intense and playing our game. It was a good feeling to score because this game meant so much to us.”
The Bulldogs continued with their pressure but couldn’t get another one by Unicorns goalkeeper Megan Etowski, who faced 16 shots by DSA.
“We dominated the second half, especially the end of the second half,” Green said. “We got one back but we just ran out of time.”
Green said she was proud of the way her team rallied and that there is still a lot to play for in their remaining games. DSA has games four games left, including three at home starting with South Granville on Monday. After a trip to Franklinton, DSA closes out with home games against Southern Vance and Granville Central.