RALEIGH — When Leesville Road back-up goalkeeper Zaria Maynard went down with an injury early in the second half of a scoreless game at Millbrook Wednesday, Pride soccer coach Paul Dinkenor walked onto the field and huddled with his players.
The Pride lost starting keeper Sydney Wooten earlier in the year to a concussion, and with just 12 field players available for the Cap Eight matchup, Dinkenor went for the luck of the draw.
“We did rock, paper, scissors. ... I said ‘I have no idea. I am completely at a loss for what to do,’” Dinkenor said.
Senior McKenna Crenshaw was the lucky Pride player put in goal for about 10 minutes before Maynard returned with the scoreboard still blank on both sides.
Maynard’s return was critical for the Pride, who are now without five starters after losing Madison Hoffman earlier in the game.
“It was terribly hard for us today to use one of our top players, Madison Hoffman, hopefully she’ll be back. I think she’s OK, but that was a huge loss for us,” Dinkenor said. “She’s really our only veteran in the back, but we fought hard. We fought hard with what we had.”
Leesville Road (3-1-2, 2-0-1 Cap Eight) fought hard enough to force a 0-0 tie with defending Cap Eight champion Millbrook and retain the Pride’s seat atop the conference heading into spring break..
“We never really looked like we were going to score, but I feel like a tie with 12 field players and we have out on the field four returning players from last year, I felt like a tie was all we could hope for,” Dinkenor said.
For Millbrook (5-3-1, 4-1-1), the result was more disappointing after having already lost a conference game to Wakefield.
“I think what this does is it makes it so we’re no longer in control of what we can do,” Millbrook coach Matt Edwards said. “If we had won tonight it would have kind of been up to us to just finish it out. Now we’re going to need them to stumble. ... We’re still a long way from where we want to be, but nobody’s going to give us anything, and unfortunately we’re going to hope somebody gives us something or else we’re not going to win the conference in the regular season.”
Millbrook controlled the ball early on, going straight at Maynard in the first minute with a shot from Colleen Markey that scooted to the right of the goal. The Wildcats retained control for much of the game, but continuously came up short, forcing overtime play.
Cailyn Boch’s header in the 98th minute made it to the goal line before being cleared by Leesville Road’s Caroline Smith.
“If you don’t score you don’t win, and I think to their credit it was their fault that we didn’t score, but I don’t know that we were that sharp tonight,” Edwards said. “I think that they pressured us enough out there. They’re a resilient group. They clearly have obviously battled through a lot of adversity this year, and they’re still first in the conference. I think there’s a lot to be said for that.”
Both teams began the season ranked among the top 50 in the nation by Student Sports. They are scheduled to play again April 28 at Leesville Road.