By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Eastern Alamance cranked up its production and efficiency in the second half in its most important game of the season to date in Central 3-A Conference girls’ soccer Wednesday night.
The result was familiar with a 2-0 victory against visiting Western Alamance.
“I definitely think we were nervous in the first half,” Eastern forward Molly Widderich said in an interview with The Alamance News after the game. “The second half, we kind of turned it on.”
It was a good thing for the Eagles (9-0-1 overall, 7-0 Central 3-A Conference) because this shaped up as a showdown as Western (11-2, 5-2) aimed to avenge its lone loss of the season.
“That was going to be the team that could take it from us,” Eastern coach Bob Webber said.
Widderich and Meredith Doi scored in the second half. Goalkeeper Karsyn Johnson made four saves for the shutout.
Western threatened throughout parts of the game, particularly in the first half and again with sustained pressure in the final 10 minutes.
“The chances we had were legitimate chances,” Western coach Camden Brooks said.
Brianna Dale’s attempt on a charge down the right side was flicked away by a diving Johnson with just less than six minutes left.
Overall, the Eagles were feeling better about how they took care of business in the last 40 minutes.
“We struggled in the first half to really get our game plan going,” Webber said. “We were playing their game plan.”
The first goal came 6:08 into the second half. Abby Brinker’s pass found Widderich in an ideal position for the tally.
“She’s always setting me up,” Widderich said. “(That sequence) was everything we talked about coming together.”
The Eagles notched the other goal with 12:24 remaining in the game on Doi’s shot from just inside the box.
Western has surrendered more than one goal in a game just twice this season. The other time was in a 3-0 home loss to Eastern on March 21.
“This was much better, the intensity from start to finish,” Brooks said. “(Our players) didn’t come in intimidated. There were a lot of positives.”
Those included 14 saves for Western goalkeeper Mia Sodano, who was battered a couple of times in the second half with some aggressive and determined sequences in the box.
“She’s tough,” Brooks said.
The Eagles had their share of that trait as well. Mackenzie Webber, the coach’s daughter, helped orchestrate the defensive effort in front of Johnson.
Coach Webber, who has a regular-season sweep of Western for the first time in his three seasons in charge, said Alena Pak turned in clutch plays on the wing and midfielder Adrianna Glancy supplied a boost off the bench in the last 20 minutes.
Eastern is trying to adjust since a knee injury to midfielder Ryen Gibbs, who’ll miss at least the rest of the regular season.
“We’re trying to figure out the right recipe to replace her,” Coach Webber said.
On Monday night, Western topped visiting Orange 2-0 on goals from Alison Thomas and Melaney Olmedo.