Prep Soccer Playoffs: McPhatter strikes four times in East win
Sidelined by an ankle injury through much of the season, 2013 has not gone the way East Davidson’s Taylor McPhatter hoped it would. But a four-goal performance Wednesday sure made up for most of those difficult days.
The junior netted a hat trick plus one in the first round of the NCHSAA 2-A state playoffs, sending the Golden Eagles to a second round meeting with Cuthbertson after a 4-1 win over Wilkes Central at Brown Middle School. Madi Hallman assisted two of the goals while Lori Morgan and Erin Hemrick added one helper each.
“My ankle is pretty good,” said McPhatter with a grin. “It feels great to advance. We just want to help the seniors have a better season.”
McPhatter suffered the injury early in the season and was sorely missed after leading the team in goals as a sophomore. In recent weeks she has returned to the pitch and has gradually gotten more mobility back. After a few tweaks to her taped ankle early on, she was off and running to a career night.
“We have babied her and now I think she is starting to find her stride again at the right time,” said coach Paul McIntire, who may also get midfielder Kali Stinson back for next game.
A 4-1 final may appear to be a relatively easy night, but that was hardly the case for East. They had to deal with talented forward Tori Andreski of the visiting Eagles. She created plenty of opportunities for herself, but came away with just one goal.
That came with 11 minutes to go first half in a scoreless contest. She dribbled through the middle of the field as the defense backpedaled to try and contain her. Andreski sped right by the defense, unleashing a bending shot toward the frame. Goalie Taylor Bell dove and got a hand on it, but the deflection found the goal for a 1-0 Eagles lead.
“Wow! She can strike it from anywhere,” McIntire said. “We knew we had to stand her up when she makes her runs. We had three different options on her and we just kept switching them. I think they underestimated her speed on that goal. They waited, waited, waited and then it was too late.”
East went to its speed option nine minutes after the Andreski goal and came away with the lead at the break.
Hallman attempted to pass a long ball up to the front line but it was knocked down. Seconds later she tried it again and this time it reached McPhatter who had timed her run perfectly. She put the ball away with her left foot to tie the score.
It worked so well one time East decided to try it again two minutes later The ball was cleared from the defensive zone and McPhatter outran everyone again for her second tally of the night.
Bell had a workout in goal with 10 saves, but she did a lot more than just knock down shots. She picked many free kicks and corners out of the air, not giving the Eagles a chance on set pieces.
With 15 minutes to play, McPhatter helped the East crowd breathe a bit easier. She sizzled a shot above the right shoulder of the Central keeper, earning herself a hat trick and serving a huge blow to the hopes of a comeback by the guests.
With 8:35 left McPhatter capped the night with her fourth goal on an assist from Hallman.
“She has been working hard on finishing and she finally found her niche,” said McIntire. “We knew if we kept feeding her then she would find it and be successful. Our other girls were able to spread the defense and we were able to read the lanes.”
The back line of Jordan Davis, Lindsey Reedy and Brandy Underwood played tough defense in helping keep Central away from the net.
East travels to Cuthbertson today for a second round match.