A thundering herd

I just knew I’d be in for a good show.

Cape Fear and Terry Sanford had played twice in the regular season, with the Bulldogs knocked off Cape Fear both times in tight, hard-fought matches.

So Thursday night’s Two Rivers 4A Conference Tournament title game was sure to be a thriller, right?

Now we know why they play soccer on grass, instead of paper.

The Colts probably weren’t as dominant as the 4-0 score might suggest, but they were definitely the better team on this cold October evening.

Bennett Strickland and Jordan Beckham scored the goals, but it was the rear guard that won this game for Cape Fear. Really, I think there were only about three legit scoring chances for the Bulldogs in the whole match. I think the physicality – 29 fouls and five yellows – took its toll on the Bulldogs, who tried to play their short passing game against a defense that flooded the channels and fought for every ball.

I’m guessing that this game will benefit both sides heading into the 4A State Playoffs. It’s good for Cape Fear because it provides momentum and the belief that they can beat a good team on the road. I think it helps the Bulldogs, too, who maybe needed a lesson on how to play on a night when things aren’t necessarily going their way.

Coach Sean Brennan put it very well after the match. “You learn more from a loss than you do from a win,” he said.

If you’d like to read my story that will appear in tomorrow’s paper, click below…

By Randy Capps
Community Sports Editor

Terry Sanford entered Thursday night’s Two Rivers 4A Conference Soccer Tournament Championship Game already owning two regular-season victories over its opponent, Cape Fear.
But since the regular-season champion Bulldogs won by only a goal each time, the third meeting at Terry Sanford figured to be another tight one.
Instead, Cape Fear played solid defense for 80 minutes and used two goals each from Bennett Strickland and Jordan Beckham to stun the hosts, 4-0, and win the tournament title.
“We never imagined it,” Cape Fear coach John Callahan said of the score line. “We knew that we had a chance to win, but 4-0? No. We were pumped for it, though.
“This was the third time we’ve played each other. It went overtime the first time. It was a 2-1 game the second time. It was very physical then, and they dominated that. We had a lot to learn from that.”
Thursday night’s affair featured a combined 29 fouls and five yellow cards between the two sides. But this time, the Colts (13-6-1) had the better of the rough and tumble stuff.
“I don’t think the score line shows the result,” Terry Sanford coach Sean Brennan said. “We worked hard. We never stopped working. But credit to Cape Fear. They’re fantastic. They have been all year.
“We were frustrated. We’ve had our way all year. We have a great attacking team. We’re strong all around the field. We finally hit a roadblock, and it was tough. But we’ll learn from this tonight, and we’ll be better for it.”
The Bulldogs (16-3-1) out-shot the Colts, 19-13, and produced four corner kicks without conceding any. But many of those attempts on goal hardly troubled Tyler Tew, who was only called upon to make eight saves en route to recording the shutout.
Beckham, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, set up the first Cape Fear goal with a through ball to Strickland on the right edge of the penalty box.
The senior striker collected it and scuffed a shot across the face of the goal that rolled over the line for a 1-0 Colt advantage.
The visitors poured it on after halftime, stifling every Bulldog attack on defense while hitting them with the counter attack.

Strickland doubled his tally in the 46th minute when a ill-advised defensive header landed at his feet on the doorstep of the goal. He banged it home to make it 2-0.
Jay Atkins stole a Terry Sanford pass in the midfield area in the 51st minute, and promptly sent a long ball forward.
Beckham got on the end of it, raced ahead of two defenders and slotted the ball past the keeper to make it 3-0.
The MVP finished the scoring in the 64th minute when he put a dazzling move on a defender at the top right corner of the penalty area, dribbled ahead about five yards and unleashed a rocket that found the top left corner of the net.
Both teams will play in the State-4A Playoffs next week.
Two Rivers 4A All-Conference Tournament team

Benjamin Major, E.E. Smith
Merrick Michaels, South View
Jordan Musselwhite, Lumberton
Will Britt, Lumberton
Travis Williams, Pine Forest
Eddie Black, Pine Forest
Ryan Weaver, Terry Sanford
Rocket Court, Terry Sanford
Kacey Pruschan, Terry Sanford
Bennett Strickland, Cape Fear
Jake Langley, Cape Fear
Colton Honeycutt, Cape Fear
MVP  — Jordan Beckham, Cape Fear

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One Response to “A thundering herd”

  1. Law 5 Says:

    Well done Randy. I have been enjoying your thoughtful insight and appreciate your commitment to soccer in our area. Kudos to you,

    Law 5

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