Washington wins at ‘The Brittany’Published 3:15pm Sunday, April 6, 2014
The Pack Pack girls’ soccer team picked up more than a quality win Saturday afternoon. Before Washington’s awaited matchup against Bunn – the same school that knocked off the Lady Pack in the first round of the basketball state tournament – the team honored the memory of Brittany Willis, a former honor roll student, All-Conference soccer player and skilled volleyball player at Hunt High School.
The 17 year old was kidnapped from a Wilson shopping center on June 28, 2004 and heinously raped and killed in the back of her SUV. Prior to each game, all 61 girls’ soccer teams learned of Willis’ story and received information to help prevent tragedies like Willis’ from happening again.
“They put up a good setup here,” said head coach Ed Rodriguez. “The girls get shirts and literature that tells about Brittany Willis and her story. It’s an all-around good experience for the girls.”
Saturday marked the second day of the 10th annual The Brittany Scholarship Soccer Showcase. The Pam Pack hit the beautiful pitch of the J. Burt Gillette Athletic Complex in Wilson, where they defeated the Wildcats, 5-2, and locked up their ninth win.
After breezing by the last five teams, 9-0, it took a collection of early goals to solidify the victory against Washington’s toughest challenge since Conley a month ago. Just seconds into the contest, senior midfielder Alana Jefferson was already working her way through the Wildcat midfield. Unassisted, she dribbled through the Bunn defense to the top of the box and fired a shot at net, putting the Pam Pack on top.
Two minutes later, the Bunn strikers made their way down the field, as junior goalie Emily Alligood cleaned up the mess. The Pam Pack keeper launched a booming punt just past midfield and directly to the foot of senior striker Christian Heggie, who found herself on a break towards the net. Heggie deposited a well-placed shot into the back of the net, and Washington found itself with a commanding 2-0 lead.
“We kept passing the ball well,” Rodriguez said. “The first two (goals) came right to the middle and we passed the ball to either the right side or left side of the goal frame and put it in.”
Jefferson and senior Harley Hudson systematically worked the ball around the midfield, finding teammates with well-timed, methodical passing. The Pam Pack had opportunity after opportunity.
Six minutes into the first half, they capitalized. A few feet from the line, junior midfielder Caitlyn Scott laid a beautiful cross in front of the net for Hudson, and she directed the ball past senior goalkeeper Cinthia Lomeli. Hudson followed suit with 15 minutes remaining in the first half. After skillfully juking out three Bunn defenders, she placed a perfect cross to the foot of Heggie, who fired a shot on goal. However, this time Lomeli came up with a great save, preventing the Pam Pack’s fourth goal.
Washington led 3-0 at the break.
Out of the gate in the second half, Jefferson, Hudson and the rest of the midfield controlled the tempo of the game. Dominating time of possession, the Wildcats were allowed just a handful of touches on their opponents end.
In the 50th minute, Heggie found herself with another chance on net after Jefferson placed a perfect through-ball which opened up a one-on-one with the goalie. With a light tap, Heggie notched her second goal of the afternoon and conference-high 25th on the season.
Bunn struck back in the 67th minute after a defensive lapse by the Pam Pack opened up some space in front of the net, allowing a Wildcat striker to find the upper-90. A minute later, Bunn mimicked its previous strike and notched another quick goal, putting them back in match with about 11 minutes remaining.
“Part of it was they had a good wind. Part of it was letting down our guard a little bit. Part of it was those girls made two great shots,” said Rodriguez. “The first one, the girl made a great run, anticipated the defense and placed it well, and the second one we failed to clear the ball.”
Juniors Rubi Perez and Warner Little stepped up and shut down the Wildcat attack through the final minutes, and on one instance, even worked the ball up to Scott, who drilled a tight-angle shot past the outstretched hand of the goalie to seal the win.
At the end of the game, players from each team made their way over to the clubhouse, where sportsmanship awards were handed out by The Brittany Committee. For her unselfishness on the pitch, Hudson took home the accolade for the victorious Pam Pack.
Washington and Bunn also made donations to the Brittany Willis Scholarship Fund, which will go towards subsidizing selected Wilson County students’ college tuition in Willis’ honor.