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The West Brunswick High School boys’ soccer team avenged a 2008 season-ending playoff loss by beating White Oak 3-2 Friday.
“We’ve had the date circled on our calendar for quite some time,” West soccer coach Tripp Smith said. “That game got scheduled in June, and the boys have talked about it all summer.”
West, unranked and unnoticed, had stunned many by reaching the third round of the playoffs before losing at White Oak in the 3A playoffs.
On Friday, West beat White Oak in the two-day Battle of the Beach, in which Swansboro and Jacksonville high schools were hosts. West played White Oak at the Swansboro Recreational Complex. On Saturday, West lost 4-1 to Southwest Onslow at the Tabernacle Soccer Complex
West entered the game Friday 1-3. With injuries and a lineup not yet set, Smith said, “we have been struggling a little. We haven’t been hitting on all cylinders. And I thought that was first time that we hit on all cylinders. We looked like a really good team.”
Smith described the first half against White Oak, which ended in a 2-2 tie, “as a little bit of a give-and-go.”
White Oak scored first, on a 2-on-4.
“We got a little aggressive and gave them a goal,” Smith said. West’s defense is playing without two injured starters, and the players are adjusting to their roles in the nonconference games.
“They’re shielding (goalkeeper) Josh (Cortes) from seeing what’s going on,” Smith said. “Josh hardly has a chance to react.”
The Trojans tied the score in the 34th minute on a header by Brenden Powell off a cross from Jesse Mayo.
“It was a nice header,” Smith said.
White Oak retook the lead five minutes later, despite Smith’s pleadings to his team to be aware of the inevitable counterattack after a goal has been scored.
But West tied the score five minutes later. On a set piece, Chip Mendoza played the ball into a position to score, and Chaz Earp headed the ball past the White Oak goalkeeper, tying the score 2-2 in the final minute of the half, Smith said.
“I thought we controlled the run of play,” he said. “I know we outpossessed them at least 60-40 in the first half.”
The Trojans took the lead for good six minutes into the second half, taking advantage of a breakdown in the White Oak defense.
“We got a ball that squirted through them,” Smith said, “and Chip corralled it and took it to the goal.
“We had a lot of chances. We definitely put some shots on target in the second half.”
The rest of the half West continued to control possession. That was evident by the number of saves Cortes had for the game.
“He made a wonderful diving save late in the second half on a pretty nicely played shot by them,” Smith said.
West played at 10 a.m. Saturday against Class 1A Southwest Onslow and lost 4-1.
“We were a little flat,” Smith said. “We had put all our eggs in that White Oak basket.”
Southwest scored with about two minutes left in the first half.
“We had two defenders and Josh, and they had one player—and he scored,” Smith said. “So we’re still struggling in trying to hold people off. We’re overaggressive at times, we’re not patient enough. We’ll dive in there trying to make a tackle, miss it, and we’ll let somebody get by us for an easy goal. I think our defenders are pretty good defenders, but they are aggressive, and at times they just have to learn how to be more patient.”
West’s only goal was an own-goal, with credit given to Casey Leonard, who made “a great cross” to teammates in the box, Smith said.
“(Onlsow) was frantic to clear it,” he said, “and one of their own guys put it in.”
The goal cut the lead to 3-1. Onslow scored its last goal it the final seconds. Cortes finished with 10 saves.
“He played well,” Smith said.
West lost 4-1 Aug. 24 to Ashley. Ashley scored twice in the first 15 minutes. Gil Gonzalez scored West’s only goal in the final minute.
West, 2-4, plays Jacksonville at 7 p.m. Wednesday at West. Jacksonville is 5-0 and is ranked second in the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association poll of Class 3A public-school teams.
West opens the conference season Sept. 9 with a home game against South Brunswick. Both teams are the only 3A teams in the seven-team 3A/2-A Waccamaw Conference.
AT MOUNT OLIVE
John Mendoza, an all-state soccer player for West last year, played in his first college game Saturday. Mendoza played in the midfield in Mount Olive’s 3-1 victory over USC Aiken.
“He went in 20 minutes into the game,” West coach Tripp Smith said, “played the rest of the first half and started 35 minutes of the second half before he had to come out with a swollen ankle.”
Mendoza first injured the ankle while preparing for the East-West All-Star game in July. “He has been fighting it ever since,” Smith said.
WEST JV 3
ASHLEY JV 0
On Aug. 24, the West JV soccer team won 3-0 at Ashley.
“It was a great effort on our part,” coach Steve Nagy said. “Ashley set the tempo early, but goalkeeper Josh Upchurch kept them out of the net with some really great saves.” Scotty Melvin scored the first two goals a minute apart, in the 27th and 28th minutes.
Jonathan Newhouse put West ahead 3-0 before halftime.
Nick Carozza, Newhouse and Melvin had assists.
Upchurch finished with 10 saves.
“This is a really good team we have,” Nagy said. “I am excited about our future.”
North Brunswick beat Trask High School 6-1 Aug 25.
Oscar Dominguez scored two goals. Francisco Hernandez, YeongWan Kim, Luis Sanchez each scored a goal. Eric Spafford scored on a penalty kick.
Goalkeeper Osmin Melger had five saves.