Washington easily handles conference cellar dweller Kinston

Published 11:43 am Wednesday, October 24, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Pam Pack soccer team continued its march to the playoffs with a comfortable victory over winless Kinston, defeating the Vikings by a score of 9-0 on Monday.

Looking to get some experience for younger players, Washington (12-4, 8-1 2A Eastern Carolina Conference) played the entire first half against Kinston (0-8, 0-8 2A ECC) without any seniors, instead allowing players who will have bigger roles next year get time on the field. The younger players, which included six JV players, set the tone for the Pam Pack, passing the ball well among each other on the way to building a 5-0 lead, which Washington head coach Jim Kozuch said was “very encouraging.”

Among the goal scorers in the first half were JV players Bryan Ramirez and Ridge Zerniak. Zerniak, a freshman who plays as an attacker on the JV squad, is a player Kozuch is trying to move around to a different position to better prepare for next season.

“He (Zerniak) played really, really well. We have him playing defense. I’m trying to plug him in so he can set up and start next year,” Kozuch said. “Right now he’s doing a great job. He’s really looking strong back there. He’s an offensive weapon for the JV team, but we’re going to bring back some good midfielders and attackers next year, so just trying to figure something out in the back there, and he’s definitely making a case right now, proving that he wants to be out there.”

Leading 5-0 heading into the second half, Kozuch brought his seniors into the game and had them work on possessing the ball. The Pam Pack added four more goals in the second 40 minutes of play, but two stood out in particular. The first was a flowing team goal that began with several passes in the back, before Cody Pinkham got on the ball, played a give and go with Tim Anglim and ripped a shot from 30 yards out that flew into the back of the net.

The final goal of the game was special too, due to the fact the whole team worked together to get senior Courtland Whitley his first goal of the season. Oscar Espinoza began the play by dribbling towards goal, beating several defenders in the box before laying the ball off. Whitley then came charging in, crushing the ball with a first-time shot into the goal, ending the game and sending the Pam Pack into a jubilant celebration.

“It was awesome. It was a bench clearer, literally, and obviously ended the game. But everybody cleared and ransacked him on the field, which was awesome,” Kozuch said. “I think that in a game like tonight, it’s hard to find motivation in a game like this. And the guys, they set out a goal to feed Courtland and get him a goal this season before he graduates. And it just gave them something to work for the whole game and it lit a fire under everybody. It was something where everybody had to work together and I think it was a good team-building moment.”

Next up for Washington is Senior Night. The Pam Pack will host West Craven (4-8, 3-5 2A ECC) tonight with kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m.