Six second-half goals lift Terra Ceia over Pungo

Published 7:49 pm Thursday, September 3, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS ON THE OFFENSIVE: Right winger Johannes Van Essendelft cuts up the sideline in the second half of Thursday’s road victory over Pungo.

ON THE OFFENSIVE: Right winger Johannes Van Essendelft cuts up the sideline in the second half of Thursday’s road victory over Pungo.

BELHAVEN — Facing an opponent that controlled over 90 percent of the possession, Pungo goalie Will Respess defended his net heroically against a constant barrage of shots, but the Raiders failed to recover after an unfortunate sendoff early in the second half, resulting in a 7-0 loss to rival Terra Ceia at R.H. Bishop Field on Thursday.

“This is a rivalry, so we knew they were going to bring it. For both of our teams, it’s the most important game of the year really,” said Terra Ceia coach Nate Burns after the game.

Like the spongy, rain-soaked pitch that decreased the velocity of most passes and shots, the Terra Ceia midfield absorbed virtually everything the host threw at it. Possession soccer was the game plan for the Knights and it worked to perfection, limiting Pungo to just three shots total, two that required saves from keeper Austin Roscoe.

As for Respess, who played the first 60 minutes in the net, he finished with 19 saves in a losing effort, allowing four goals, as the speedy Terra Ceia strikers continuously picked apart the Pungo back line.

“We know that they’re going to play tough defense and pack it in the box, so you have to make sure to spread the ball, control the ball and look for good shots. You can’t settle for bad shots,” Burns said.

“We like to play the through ball because we have some fast strikers, but their defense did take that away today. We had to game plan different for what they do because we knew they were going to be back there. We had to share the ball a lot.”

In the first half, the visiting midfield controlled the tempo of the match by working the ball through the center. Quentin Van Essendelft, Kendal Bowen and a host of other Knights midfielders’ combined for 21 shots through the first 40 minutes, a total of 16 saves from Respess. However, it wasn’t until the very last shot of the half with six minutes remaining that Terra Ceia finally capitalized.

Working his way up the sideline, Johannes Van Essendelft hit a through ball to senior Noah Williams. Williams juked out two defenders, turned and fired a shot that caromed off the right post and into the back of the net, giving Terra Ceia a 1-0 lead at the break.

Pungo’s lone first-half opportunity came with 16 minutes left on a cut up field by striker Christian Cadle, who fired a shot just to the left of the post. Cadle was injured on the play and did not return for the remainder of the contest.

The Knights carried the momentum into the second half, though the Raiders’ defense held its own, limiting shot opportunities early. But with 30 minutes left in the match, a dead-ball incident led to a straight red card for a Pungo midfielder, who was escorting off the field. For that moment on, with nine field players, the Raiders would struggle to keep pace.

Six minutes after the sendoff, the Knights strung together six goals in eight minutes. On a series of through balls, slip passes and crosses, Noah Williams, Quentin Van Essendelft (twice), Bowen, Ben Hubers and Brandon Cox all etched there names on the final score sheet with goals. Dawson Cox also finished with three assists, while Bowen, Williams, Tyler Hendrix and Johannes Van Essendelft each finished with an assist.

With the win, Terra Ceia improves to 2-0-2 heading into Tuesday’s showdown with Pope John Paul at home. For the Knights, it’s just another step towards their ultimate goal, finish with a second-straight winning record and earn their first playoff berth.

“We hope that if we have good success that the (NCISAA) committee will invite us,” Burns said. “More importantly, last year was our first winning season as a school and we just want to build on that success. We have five seniors who all play together, play well and want to win, so we try to take advantage of that.”

Pungo will look to bounce back against Ridgecroft at home on Tuesday.