Local soccer teams zero in on competition

Mar. 22—For one night at least, you could call the Brick City the "Goose-Egg City."

Both Lee County and Southern Lee played non-conference soccer matches Wednesday evening, and both teams won easily while shutting out the competition.

The Lady Jackets, who have been one of the hottest teams in the state recently, showed no signs of cooling down as they welcomed Overhills to Paul Gay Stadium. Lee County, ranked No. 10 in the 3A East Region by MaxPreps, scored three goals in each half and defeated the 14th-ranked Lady Jaguars 6-0.

Meanwhile, their rivals on the southside hit the road Wednesday for a trip down the St. Paul's and a rematch with the Bulldogs, who they'd beaten 7-0 in a home match last week. Playing at home helped St. Paul's a little, but not nearly enough. The Lady Cavaliers walked out with a 5-0 whitewash this time.

Southern Lee, which won just three matches a year ago, is now 5-2 on the season. The Lady Cavaliers took it on the chin Tuesday night in a 6-0 loss to Sandhills Athletic Conference power Pinecrest, but Southern already finds itself in a good position in the first half of the season. The team is ranked 20th in the MaxPreps 3A East, which would easily put them into the state playoffs just a year after finishing tied for last in the SAC.

Lee County rightfully could have expected a tough game against Overhills, but ended up winning with ease over a team rated very close to them. Gillian Garrison and Lila Moshfegh scored the six goals between them, with four for Garrison and two for Moshfegh. They were also two of the five Lady Jackets who were credited with an assist, having each assisted on one goal by the other. Also collecting one assist were Estrella Vasquez, Ava Baldwin, and Rebecca Velasquez.

Keeper Diana Ponce made four saves and got her fifth shutout of the season.

Southern's women's soccer renaissance is coming under the tutelage of first-year head coach Anna Fish. Fish inherited a team with just two seniors on the 19-player roster, but one that had some promising young players thrown into the fire last season. Leading the attack for the Lady Cavaliers is sophomore forward Ryan Phillips, who scored 16 goals and had three assists in Southern Lee's first four matches of the season. A trio of juniors also play major roles on the offense. Logan Hickman and Rhianna Phillips both had four goals, with Brooke Burrus leading the Lady Cavaliers with seven assists. The two Phillipses are tied for second with three each.

Southern's defense is anchored by the two experienced seniors, Brianna Mireles and Sofia DiCianci. Freshman keeper Jaqueline Hernandez looks like a definite keeper, in the other sense of the word.

Against St. Paul's, Ryan Phillips had a hat trick, while Bethzy Olvera and Burrus each scored a goal. Assists were credited to Mireles and Addison Spivey.

The Lady Cavaliers play tonight at SAC rival Hoke (2-6-2, 1-2 SAC), while Lee County hosts Pinecrest in a first-place showdown. Both teams will then take an extended break before resuming play in April. The Lady Jackets' next match will be on April 9 at home against Southern, while the Lady Cavs will return April 5 at Union Pines.