RALEIGH — If practice makes perfect, imperfection is an absolute for girls soccer teams in the Triangle thus far. Cardinal Gibbons and Athens Drive tangled on Wednesday night with more games played than practices held since the season began on Feb. 26.
Without training to rely on, Cardinal Gibbons had to fall back on the team unity its created within the school’s hallways and not that on the pitch.
The defending N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A champion Crusaders took a 4-1 win at Athens Drive .
“We’ve gotten in only two or three (practices), but they’ve all been really good,” Gibbons forward Angela Hiltbrunner said. “As a group, we get along really well emotionally so we can read each other and we just ‘get’ each other. And I feel the seniors have done a great job of making sure that we become friends before we become teammates.”
Gibbons (3-0) struck first in the 20th minute.
Going down the left side of the box, Lauren Magdefrau looked over her right shoulder and played a ball to Calleigh West near the top of the box. West’s shot kissed the keeper’s mitts as it found the back of the net.
After surviving a few near-chances from Athens Drive, Gibbons doubled its lead in the 35th as Hiltbrunner sent in a curling shot from 20 yards away.
Miller had high praise for the junior forward.
“She’s came out on fire,” Miller said. “She just gets after it. She’s very confident right now. She’s scored a bunch of goals for us already and we just kind of fed off her enthusiasm in the beginning.”
Shortly after halftime, Gibbons created a scrum in front of the box where Hannah Jefferson hammered home the rebound to make it 3-0 in the 42nd minute.
The next two goals were similar.
Athens Drive’s Riley Nociti put the Jaguars on the board in the 45th off a rebound.
Then in the 49th, senior Morgan Reid scored her first goal of the year, also on a rebound. Reid, a senior who will play at Duke next season, has had no soccer practices since her basketball season ended last Friday.
“This is the first we’ve seen her, she’s a little under the weather so we played her very sparingly,” Miller said.
Although the Jaguars fell to 1-2 on the young season, coach Travis Seese – the school’s longtime boys soccer coach who took a one-year hiatus from coaching the girls – was encouraged by some individual play.
“We have a lot of really good pieces this year. We have a lot of really good individual players. Unfortunately, the way the beginning of the season has shaked out, we have no training time; so we can’t even learn how to play together,” Seese said. “You see some great individuals out there but not very great teamwork. I think as the year goes on, that’ll improve a little bit.”
Led by Allie Chason, Logan Lineberry, Daria Draovitch and Nociti, the Jaguars held possession well for the most part, which threw off Gibbons’ usual strategy.
Now, Seese just hopes the rain holds off long enough to work with his group a little more.
“We’re looking forward to actually getting some practice time and coming together,” Seese said. “The way the schedule works out, we’re looking at going three weeks without actually having a practice.”
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps