Dark Horses soccer played in the first round of the playoffs Wednesday at home, beating the Unicorns of North Carolina School of Science and Math 3-0 to advance to the second round.
Clinton claimed the win, but it wasn’t a smooth game, especially in the first half. Despite the Unicorns moving the ball at will, it was Clinton that managed to end the half leading, thanks to a nice finish on a shot by Ivan Ponce.
The goal that gave them a 1-0 lead was a shot Ponce popped up over the goalie, who dove to the ground in an effort to smother the ball. It took a couple of bounces before going in and putting Clinton ahead. The excitement died down a bit after that as the Horses held onto their halftime lead with the Unicorns maintaining possession of the ball.
“They were a tricky first round team; they really outplayed us in the first half with how well they were moving the ball on us,” said head coach Brad Spell. “We made some adjustments during halftime and we were able to get the win.”
The second half was a different story as the adjustments Clinton made during halftime opened up shots for them and their defense tightened up. Sam Holloman fired up his play, scoring twice to give the Horses the 3-0 win.
The first goal of the second half came at 50:28 as Holloman put in an easy chip shot near the goal, putting his team up 2-0. Then in the final nine minutes of play, he struck again, this time at 71:08 on a spectacular shot to the right side of the net to extend the lead to the eventual 3-0 final.
The Horses’ defense has played well throughout the year, Wednesday’s match making the 13th shutout win on the season.
“They gave us some problems to began with, but I was really proud of our defense and how much better they played in the second half,” said Spell. “Thanks to our defense really stepping up, we were able to get out and now it’s time to get ready for East Bladen. “
East Bladen finished their season 21-1, their only loss coming to Clinton earlier in the year. The 19-5 Dark Horses prepare to face off against the Eagles on the road Saturday in the second round of the playoffs.
Reach Michael Hardison at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.