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Wheatmore soccer outlasts rival Trinity

Apr. 18—TRINITY — Wheatmore still had Trinity's number. But this time the difference was a lot smaller.

The teams were tied midway through the first half. But the Warriors regained the advantage just before halftime and held on the rest of the way to beat the rival Bulldogs 2-1 in PAC 1A/2A girls soccer Wednesday evening at Wheatmore.

"I'm kind of glad we had a tough preseason," Wheatmore coach Rick Maness said. "I think that made us stronger. Just little touches here and there, and Trinity was able to get just enough boot on it. But you still come out with a W."

Ellie Garrison, the state's all-time leading goal scorer, netted both scores for the Warriors (8-3 overall, 7-0 conference). Natalie Bowman added an assist as the result was much closer than Wheatmore's 7-1 win a month ago.

"It means a lot — this was my last time ever playing Trinity," said Garrison, a senior forward who has signed with Appalachian State. "It's a memorable thing, and we just really pushed through at the end."

Wheatmore grabbed the lead in the seventh minute. Bowman sent a long free kick upfield, Garrison ran onto the ball and scored while fending off the defender. But Trinity answered in the 27th minute when Emmalina Stevens booted in a rebound after Daniela Hernandez's shot hit off the crossbar.

The Warriors took the lead back in the 32nd minute. Garrison, taking a pass from Tatum Wagner, controlled the ball in the middle, stepped and fired. That gave Wheatmore a 2-1 lead into halftime, which it held the rest of the way.

"All the seniors have never lost to Trinity, and Rick made that known," said Garrison, who scored six goals to break open the teams' previous meeting. "So, we made sure that the whole team tried their hardest and gave it their 100%. We weren't going to let up easily."

The result was a hard-fought win. Nicks and bruises have been a concern lately, but, at the same time, the Warriors secured a well-earned rivalry win and continued to close in on their fourth-straight perfect run through the conference.

"One thing is that we've got to get healthy," Maness said. "I knew this was going to be tough, and they're all going to be tough from here on out."

On the other side, Trinity took a big step in the right direction, showing its improvement and growth as a young team by playing with one of the top programs in the state in recent years.

"I thought we played really well," Bulldogs coach Mike Sink said. "We've been coming on as the season's progressed. We're super young and I thought they did really well.

"It's been getting game time and getting all the freshmen acclimated to the speed. The speed from middle school to high school is a different world. It's the same from high school to college — everyone gets faster.

"I think this gets their mindset to: 'OK, we can compete.' I think that's the biggest thing. We keep telling them all year, 'You can compete, but it's got to start at the top.' So I think mentally they've changed their outlook a little bit."

Kelsey Albert made 11 saves in goal for Trinity, while Lucy Lockwood had two saves for Wheatmore.

Both teams will continue conference play Monday. The Bulldogs will host Southwestern Randolph, while the Warriors will visit Randleman.