Pam Pack falls behind early, can’t recover in loss to New Bern

Published 4:02 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2018

NEW BERN — The Washington soccer team traveled to New Bern yesterday hopeful for the Pam Pack’s first win over the Bears in head coach Jim Kozuch’s tenure, but New Bern came flying out of the gates, scoring twice in the opening minutes to send Washington home with a 3-0 loss.

Many high school soccer teams play on fields that are around 55 yards wide, due to the fact they share a field with the football team. But New Bern (3-1) plays on a field that is 70 yards wide, and the Bears used it to their advantage by stretching out the Washington (2-2) defense and attacking the gaps. New Bern opened the scoring just a minute into the game and doubled its lead after 10 minutes.

“They spread us out really well in the first half. They scored two goals on through balls straight through the middle. They got us quick; they bombarded us,” Kozuch said. “In a game against a team like New Bern, you can’t go down a goal, you can’t spot a team like that. Playing from behind, we knew it was going to be a really, really tough task. We tried to come out hard, but those guys are so skilled at playing on their home field. That’s just something we’re not used to and they took it to us.”

The Pam Pack settled into the game after that, splitting possession with New Bern, as the two teams went back and forth the remainder of the opening half. The Bears nabbed a third goal near the end of the first half, catching Washington sleeping and sneaking in backdoor to score.

Kozuch made defensive adjustments during the halftime break, resulting in improved play from his side in the second half. Washington also had several chances to score, but luck was not on the Pam Pack’s side. Washington’s best opportunities to score came from Tim Anglim, who rattled the crossbar with a shot, and Michael Reid. Reid looked certain to score with a well-placed shot, but New Bern’s goalkeeper robbed the junior forward with an acrobatic save.

“We played a much better, more composed second half. We switched to a zone defense in the second half and we had much better results passing on players and what not. Didn’t give up any through balls and we got our own chances in the second half,” Kozuch said. “It was very tricky for us to recover. We figured it out, but obviously, you can’t spot a team like New Bern (a lead) like that.”

Kozuch said his team’s goal after halftime was to win the second half. The Pam Pack couldn’t get on the scoreboard to accomplish that objective, but Washington found solace in the fact it kept the Bears from scoring more.

Playing quality squads like New Bern early in the season is a good way for teams to diagnose what they need to work on, and Washington is no different.

“There was a lot defensively we can work on. We missed some marks and it hurt us. Obviously when we play against good teams like this, it’s going to be something that we need to be better prepared for,” Kozuch said. “Overall, we took some bumps and bruises today. I think we definitely learned a lot defensively and we’ve got to bring more into our offensive attack as well, which just will come in time.”

Washington faces another difficult test tomorrow, as the Pam Pack host South Central (4-0-1) with kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m.