By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
When it pieces together so nicely for the Western Alamance boys’ soccer team as it did Thursday night, the possibilities seem so grand.
The Warriors had it going from the opening minute and stayed in control for long stretches to knock off previously undefeated Williams 4-1.
“If we get it together, we can smack anybody we play,” Western senior Jacob Carignan said.
“If we get it together, we can smack anybody we play.” – Western’s Jacob Carignan, who scored two of Western’s 4 goals Thursday night
Noah Barrett and Carignan each scored two goals in avenging a loss to Williams just a few weeks ago and making it generally frustrating for the state’s top-ranked Class 3-A team.
“We just wanted to get back at them. We came out. The energy was high. We put one away in the first minute. That just led to the rest of the game.” –Western’s Noah Barrett
“This was the biggest game of the season,” Barrett said. “Last time, we lost. We just wanted to get back at them. We came out. The energy was high. We put one away in the first minute. That just led to the rest of the game.”
Williams (15-1-1, 8-1 Central Carolina 3-A Conference) outscored its previous five opponents by a combined 23-2, but no such Bulldogs dominance was on display Thursday night on Western’s field.
Western (11-3-2, 7-1), which is the defending Class 3-A state champion, holds a six-game winning streak.
Western coach Camden Brooks said it was important to dictate tempo. While that wavered in some late-game spans, mostly it was a mission accomplished by the Warriors.
“I felt like they handled the pressure pretty well,” Brooks said. “It has been a long time since they lost that last game to Williams.”
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Williams coach Jeremy Krist said there’s no shame in losing to Western. On this night, the Bulldogs didn’t uncover enough answers.
“Endless, endless energy from them,” Krist said of the Warriors. “They were really good.”
Brooks said this was the best the Warriors have been all season.
“We’ve been trying to get ourselves together for quite a while,” Carignan said. “It took a bit longer than most of the other teams in the state. We finally did get it together, and it goes to show we can smack any team in the state.”
[Story continues below interviews with Carignan and Barrett after the game.]
Neither team had lost since last month’s 3-2 victory for Williams at Burlington Memorial Stadium. That was accompanied by growing attention and expectations for the Bulldogs.
“This balloon that has continuously gotten bigger and bigger and bigger,” Krist said in describing what had involved his team. “Is it going to pop?”
In some ways, it burst right away – well before fog settled in during the second half.
Barrett scored 81 seconds into the game, assisted by Carignan.
“We knew that if we could get out to a really good start we could, not coast, but it would be a lot easier to finish out the game,” Carignan said.
That was just the beginning of extended positive minutes for the Warriors.
“We were connected really well,” Barrett said. “We finally figured out our best formations, and who plays where and stuff. … We knew how to play against what they were going to do. We just carried out the plan, and it worked.”
Carignan scored the next two goals within a 3½-minute span, with each assisted by Brooks. The second of those involved impressive individual effort as Carignan moved down the left side and powered through for a goal.
“I saw the lane open, so I took it,” he said. “I got a bit of a lucky bounce.”
The Bulldogs got on the board with 4:13 to play in the first half. The ball took several caroms in front of the net before Emmanuel Bousumo knocked it in.
Williams was in position to pull within a goal a few times after that. But freshman goalkeeper Eamon Hipps of Western was up to the task and finished with eight saves.
When Barrett converted on a penalty kick 12:45 into the second half, it was another sign that the Warriors had it going their way. Barrett has a team-leading 16 goals, including three penalty kicks, this year.
The game wasn’t without consequences for the Warriors. Brooks carried midfielder Noah Rouse off the field with an injury late in the game.
Take away some ailments, and the Warriors won’t want to change across the final two weeks of the regular season. They’re excited about the possibilities.
“Not much other than we did (Thursday),” Carignan said of the objective. “We got ourselves together. We know what we’re doing now, so I’m very confident we can play with anyone.”