Growing Lady Seahawks best West Craven

Published 9:26 pm Monday, March 5, 2018

CHOCOWINITY — Southside learned a lot in 2017. Last season was the first time the school had fielded a girls’ soccer team. It was tough laying the groundwork with 11 underclassmen, but those efforts are already beginning to pay off this time around.

Those underclassmen — a half dozen of which were freshmen — have that experience as this campaign begins. So, too, does coach Jay Petty.

“The net group I have is sophomores that were freshmen last year,” Petty explained. “It was a huge learning experience. … It was very beneficial for this year because they’ve been able to look back at last year and go, ‘We remember the things we need to work on.’ They’re doing it this year.”

And this season is off to a good start. The Lady Seahawks got the jump on West Craven in a 2-0 season-opening win. Sophomores Iyari Mondragon and Sindy Chavez Pullman each scored to spearhead an efficient attack.

“One of the things they learned from when we first started playing last year was that we didn’t get a lot of cardio in,” Petty said. “They’ve really been working hard on making sure they’re in pretty good shape this year. We were a little sloppy, not where we wanted to be tonight, but we never gave up.”

Southside’s offense took a few minutes to settle in. Junior goalkeeper Carleigh Findley and the defense held the Lady Eagles off until the forwards and midfield got in sync.

Pullman started using her speed to get behind West Craven’s backline. The midfielders, too, demonstrated their vision in finding the seams through the defense. The second-year standout got Southside’s first good look 18 minutes in.

The shots kept coming for Southside. Mondragon streaked down the right wing a minute later and put one toward the goal. It squeaked past the Lady Eagle netminder, giving the Lady Seahawks a 1-0 advantage about midway through the first half.

That clean sheet stood for the following 61 minutes. West Craven nearly equalized shortly after Mondragon’s goal, but Findley denied the opportunity.

Southside doubled its lead early in the second half when, after multiple opportunities, Pullman finally broke through. Her initial shot was stopped, but she followed up and put her own rebound in the back of the net.

Chances continued to pile up for her, Giselle Perez Ramirez and others, but the Lady Seahawks couldn’t find twine again. The attacking presence did, however, keep West Craven on its heels.

“Last year, we played a number of games where we just couldn’t get it out of the back,” Petty said. “I felt like we were pretty balanced tonight. … We kept the ball going forward. When it did go toward our goal, we were able to get it and clear it out.”

Southside plays Farmville Central on Tuesday. It wraps up the week with a trip to West Craven on Thursday.