A week that will help shape the season for the Roxboro Community School soccer team began in a huge way with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory against East Wake Academy Monday at home.
The victory against the ninth-ranked team in the latest MaxPreps 1A Adjusted Rankings moves RCS (8-3 overall, 6-2 NCAC) into second-place in the conference heading into Tuesday’s showdown against Voyager Academy (7-6, 6-4) in East Roxboro.
Results of the game were unavailable at press time. RCS edged Voyager, 1-0, when the teams met March 25 in Durham in a game where Bulldog keeper Carly Grinstead was injured in the late stages.
RCS fell to East Wake Academy, 6-3, two days after the first Voyager game, but evened the score in the rematch.
“We know it’s a rivalry game and we knew if we won tonight and take care of things (Tuesday) against Voyager, we’d take command of second place. This was huge for us,” RCS coach Tim Ess said. “We played with intensity for 80 minutes. We played a full game and played up to our potential. They’re just a highly-competitive team and honestly, I think they bring us up a bit, and we play to their level. This is definitely big.”
The Eagles struck first with a goal near the midway part of the first half, but the Bulldogs answered right back.
Senior Eryka Vanek worked her way through traffic for an unassisted goal with a shade under 16 minutes to play.
The game remained deadlocked until Mackenzie Oliver scored on a header on a kick from Karys Vanek that bounced off the crossbar.
Grinstead took care of the rest, finishing with 17 saves.
For the game, the Bulldogs had 15 shots with 10 of those on goal.
RCS is still in the hunt for an automatic bid into the 1A state playoffs and is currently ranked 19th in the latest MaxPreps 1A Adjusted Rankings. Ess credits the leadership from his seniors to his team’s success this season.
“These are kids that (assistant coach Troy Bryan) has coached since middle school and we’ve just come so far. We don’t play the same,” Ess said. “We play with purpose. We pass with purpose. We move and go to the ball. They just want it. We do not have a high school banner. To get that, we have to beat Franklin, but this is the best shot we’ve had at it in years. This group of seniors are special. They bring a lot to the table.”