Pam Pack bedevils South Lenoir in comfortable victory

Published 6:30 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2018

WASHINGTON — Washington dominated South Lenoir for long stretches of their game on Tuesday, barely allowing the Blue Devils to get a touch of the ball, yet the Pam Pack held only a one-goal lead at halftime. But Washington turned up the pressure in the second half, scoring three goals, including twice within a minute, to comfortably defeat South Lenoir, 4-0.

“I think that we moved the ball around really well. They played a very defensive formation, so we had a hard time scoring, but I really liked the way we possessed the ball and moved it around well,” Washington head coach Jim Kozuch said. “Other than finding the ball in the back of the net, I though that we dominated possession, so I was very happy.”

The Pam Pack (10-4, 6-1 2A Eastern Carolina Conference) established its dominance of the ball from the get-go, with center midfielders Oscar and Jarod Espinoza pulling the strings, playing both short passes and long balls switching the point of attack to stretch out the Blue Devil (5-5-1, 3-2 2A ECC) defense. When Washington did lose the ball, the Pam Pack pressed and swarmed South Lenoir, forcing turnovers and getting the ball right back.

Washington threatened the South Lenoir goal for the first time six minutes in, as Jarod Espinoza found Elvin Elizalde with a through ball, but the senior forward blazed his shot over the crossbar. Six minutes later Espinoza had an opportunity himself, but he sent his first-time shot from a Tim Anglim layoff inches over the bar.

The scoring opportunities mounted for the Pam Pack, but it just couldn’t find the back of the net. Anglim looked certain to score with nine minutes remaining in the half, but the South Lenoir goalkeeper made a spectacular sprawling save to deny Anglim.

Washington finally got the goal it’s play deserved with two minutes remaining in the opening half. Cody Pinkham got onto the end of a Graham Parker corner kick at the back post, heading the ball off the back of a South Lenoir defender and into the net.

The Pam Pack picked up in the second half right where it left off, scoring its second goal just two minutes after resuming play. Dawson Cox, who was a menace on the right wing all game constantly dribbling by his defender and pumping crosses into the box, found some space for himself outside the box and unleashed a shot. The Blue Devil goalie managed to save it, but the ball rebounded to the middle of the box and an alert Pinkham beat the South Lenoir defenders to the rebound and buried it in the goal.

Pinkham almost scored another 10 minutes later, slaloming past several defenders in the box, but the senior’s shot was saved at point blank range. Washington seemingly set up camp in South Lenoir’s end of the field in the second half creating chance after chance, but couldn’t apply the finishing touch.

But then in a flash the Pam Pack doubled its lead. With eight minutes remaining Washington forced a turnover at midfield and unleashed a lightning quick counter attack. Cox rampaged down the right and sent in a cross for Seth Davis, whose shot bounced off a Blue Devil and into the goal.

Before South Lenoir had a chance to take a breath, its goalie was picking the ball out of his net once again. Anglim started the play by bursting the midfield and playing an inch-perfect through ball to Cox, who capped his great game out wide with a far-post finish.

Kozuch was especially pleased with his players’ performance, as they didn’t suffer a letdown against the Blue Devils after the big win over North Lenoir the night prior.

“I always have that feeling (that his team might suffer a letdown). We were super excited for (the) North Lenoir (win), but then after getting a big win sometimes you overlook teams,” Kozuch said. “And this team (South Lenoir) is no slouch. They lost a one-goal game to a team (Greene Central) that we lost to as well. But I was happy with the way that we came. We were good.”

Washington has a rematch with the Blue Devils at South Lenoir on Monday. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.