RALEIGH — Todd Worley knows his Sanderson soccer team is best when on the attack.
The Spartans got back on the offensive foot last week with a 3-0 win over Millbrook and a 7-1 win over Wakefield.
“I think the guys went back to trying to go to goal,” Worley said after Sanderson’s win against Millbrook. “That’s kind of our style. If we are attacking then we’re a pretty good team. When we knock it around the back too much, we get in trouble. Sometimes we get way too stagnant.”
Sanderson (11-4, 7-1 Cap Eight) played even with Millbrook in the first half of Monday’s game with both teams scoreless at the break.
A Dylan Haynes long shot from the far left side curled into the top right corner of the goal to put Sanderson on the board in the 46th minute, igniting the Spartans offense.
Ryan Turner drew Millbrook goalkeeper Andrew Fiest enough to chip another goal over his head less than a minute later, shifting the momentum heavily in Sanderson’s favor.
Turner added another on a one-on-one in the 63rd.
“Dylan’s goal was just crazy,” Turner said. “I didn’t see that one coming, but that really fired us up, I guess, and got us going. And even though it was kind of a lucky goal, we haven’t been scoring in the past two games, and I think that was our trigger and really got our momentum going and got us fired and got our attack really turned on after that.”
Millbrook coach Matt Edwards said it wasn’t Sanderson’s first goal that made the difference in the game. Instead, it was his team’s reaction to the goal.
“They got the first goal and I think we kind of had about a five-minute span there where we felt sorry for ourselves or were angry about it, and to their credit, they did not sit on one goal, they didn’t relax,” Edwards said. “They get that second goal and everything after that is we’re battling back and it’s a good fight, but it’s kind of too little too late.”
The loss was the first time Millbrook (8-4-1, 5-3 Cap Eight) had been shut out this year. The Wildcats rebounded with a 4-2 win at Enloe on Wednesday.
Edwards said the main focus is finishing third or better in the conference to secure a playoff spot. The Wildcats are currently third, trailing Heritage (12-4, 6-2 Cap Eight) and first-place Sanderson.
A week earlier, Sanderson suffered its first loss of conference play, falling 2-0 to Wake Forest.
“The game against Wake Forest they deserved to win,” Worley said. “I thought our guys played well that night, but it just didn’t happen. Tonight was kind of scary because we knew we had to do a whole lot to get it done and that first half I thought we played well, but we didn’t get any goals out of it.
“Millbrook got close a couple of times on us and our keeper (came up big). It was a big deal that we play well tonight and also get some goals. The hard thing about Wake Forest is we got shut out and that’s what scared me.”
The Spartans turned up the intensity entering the second half of conference play, outscoring opponents 10-1 last week.
“This is a big win for us,” Turner said after the Millbrook game. “It should send a big message to the rest of the teams that we still got it and that Wake Forest game just might have been a fluke.”
The Spartans travel to second-place Heritage on Monday.