Science and Math had no trouble in its N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A girls soccer first round contest against traveling North Brunswick on Wednesday night, winning by a score of 7-2.
The Unicorns got on the board six minutes into the game after a failed clearing attempted by North Brunswick goalie Breanna Atkins. After cutting off a lead pass, Atkins’ miss-struck the ball, hitting it right to junior forward Katherine Clayton. Clayton quickly chipped the ball over Atkins, just in front of the crossbar, and into the goal.
“I knew it was coming to me and I had the open shot,” said Clayton. “It was at a weird angle, a little off to the left, and I hit it with my left foot, and I’m right foot dominant. It was a bit of a shock to me that it went in, but it was exciting to get the first playoff goal of the year.”
For Atkins, that was just the start of her rough night. She would give up two more goals, one more to Clayton and another to Kelly Williams, in less than ten minutes before being pulled following the Unicorns’ fourth goal on six targeted shots.
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North Brunswick would get on the board late in the first half thanks to an Alexia Campbell breakaway, set-up by a Unicorns defensive breakdown.
“We were playing the offside strap, and we came up, anticipating the pass,” said coach Joe Shields. “Credit to (Campbell) who saw that and went with the ball.”
Science and Math went into a bit of a defensive shell in the second half, allowing North Brunswick to control the majority of play. That didn’t stop Clayton for adding to her goal title, finishing off the hat trick at the 67th mark and scoring on a long range rainbow five minutes later.
“I’ve never been afraid to shot, which I guess is a good thing,” said Clayton.
Despite the lopsided score, North Brunswick had their chances on offense. They finished with 14 shots at the goal and seven on target.
“Our defense was a little shaky, but we have two defensive starters out,” said Shields.
Injuries have been an issue for Science and Math all season. Shields said that he’s only had a healthy roster in one game all season, a 3-2 victory at Durham School of the Arts. Even with the injuries, Shields and his girls have found a way to win.
Science and Math has been eliminated from the playoffs in the third round in each of the last two seasons. Being a two-year school, the roster turnover is higher, making it tough to build consistency. To combat that, Shields tries to build chemistry on and off the field.
“Sometimes it’s just going out to dinner or going to a movie or bringing dinner to the field,” said Shields. “The school is so serious with their studies. Just getting away from the school and going out, it helps everyone get to know each other.”