A night to remember

I’m sure all of you read every word of my story about last night’s Two Rivers Conference Tournament title game between Lumberton and Terry Sanford.

It measured 20 inches of copy when I typed it up last night, but it really could have been even longer.

Here’s what I could have added…

Goal of the Year – I haven’t seen every soccer game in the area this year, so there might have been a better goal scored somewhere than the one Demilla Brooks put away last night in the 78th minute.

I like the way South View coach Jeremiah Mattingly put it, when he said that her header looked like “something you’d see in a high-level boys’ game.”

I agree. It was a beautiful strike that national team keeper Hope Solo wouldn’t have touched.

Joy and pain – Have I mentioned that I hate watching kids cry? Anyone who thought that a conference tournament championship game – with playoff seeds already locked in – didn’t mean anything only need to walk by the Bulldog players after the match who were laid out on the turf, crying their eyes out.

Former Liverpool manager Bill Shankley once said: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”

He may not have been far off last night.

Who stood out – In a 1-0 match, you expect the keepers to be good, and both Terry Sanford’s Kate Millani and her counterpart Rebecca Hansen were just that.

But the sweepers – Lumberton’s Katye Jobe and the Bulldogs’ Madeline Russell – were the players of the match for me. Both ran tirelessly, clearing away would-be chances and taking charge at the back. But Russell also ran forward to take long throws and try to win headers in the box while Jobe took free kicks and drifted up into the midfield to try and start counter attacks.

Brooks may have scored the winner, but neither team would have been in the match without the work of those defenders.

The aftermath – So, what does this mean? Lumberton will host Hoke County and Terry Sanford will entertain Richmond County next Tuesday or Wednesday in the opening round of the State-4A Playoffs. The Pirates should still be riding the wave of finally breaking through to win a conference tournament while the Bulldogs must find a way to put the sting of Thursday night’s loss behind them.

Terry Sanford is a very young team, filled with players that are dealing with true adversity for the first time. It will be interesting to see how the youthful Bulldogs respond.

All-Tournament Team

South View – Demise Higgins and Sidney Reed
Cape Fear – Jessie Pearson
E.E. Smith – Chelsey Lee
Purnell Swett – Lydia Locklear
Pine Forest – April Byrd and Tamei Elliott
Lumberton – Katye Jobe, Jaynell Brown and Callie Davis
Terry Sanford – Madeline Russell, Theresa O’Sullivan and Julie Hurst

Tournament MVP – Demilla Brooks, Lumberton

And finally, some coaching interviews:

Bryan Madej interview

Kenny Simmons interview

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