On a brutally cold night at Havelock High, Jacksonville had all the firepower.
The Cardinals scored five goals in the second half, breaking away for a 6-0 victory over the Rams in a Coastal 3A Conference match Tuesday night.
“In the first half, we missed quite a few opportunities,” Jacksonville coach David Miller said. “We did a much better job in the second half of finishing our chances.”
For the Havelock Rams, playing without three starters, the Cardinals were just too fast to contain for 80 minutes.
“We got tired,” Havelock coach Jeff Harris said. “They’re a fast team and they just kept coming and coming and coming.
“We’re missing three starters, and the people I would normally use to spell the starters are the ones who are starting right now, so we just didn’t have the recovery time that we would normally have, and they just wore us down. That’s what it comes down to.”
Trailing 1-0, Havelock (7-5, 2-3) had an early opportunity in the second half, but Cardinal keeper Krysten Stenclik turned away a shot from Dominique Martinez within the first two minutes. Jacksonville (8-1-1, 6-0) took over from that point.
First, Taylor Leyble lofted a 35-yard shot over the head of Havelock keeper Caitlin Annunziata with 27 minutes left in the match, lifting the Cardinals to a 2-0 lead.
The Rams nearly got it back when Erica Quinn, usually a winger but filling in at striker for the injured Ali Wickman, hit the cross bar from just outside the box.
“She’s usually a wing, and she had to step up to that striker position, and she had some beautiful shots on goal,” Harris said. “It’s probably the best game I’ve seen her play from bell to bell, hustling the whole game. She had a fantastic game.”
Jacksonville got two more quick goals when Cassie Padilla set up Leyble with 25 minutes left, and Padilla also set up Meredith McCarty for a breakaway goal with 22 minutes left.
Karley Holland’s work in the right corner turned into a goal off the leg of Leah Oswalt with 16 minutes left, and Oswalt then fed Stacey Scott for the final goal of the night.
“That first half, when we were fresh and they were fresh, it was a 1-0 game,” Harris said. “Our girls played well, but once we got tired, they exploited that, and that’s what good teams do. The girls played as hard as they could play. They did everything right, but their speed overtook us.”
In the first half, Havelock got the first shot on goal of the match when Alexis Delacruz worked a ball toward the goal from the right wing that Stenclik stopped. Later in the half, Quinn broke up the middle and fed Delacruz on the wing for an open look at the goal, but the shot hit the outside of the net.
The Cardinals got on the board when Jordyn Hayden sent a pass from the middle of the field to Scott, who managed to tuck the ball just under Havelock keeper Amanda Alexander for a 1-0 lead.
Later in the half, Alexander made two saves on breakaways, helping keep the Rams in it with eight saves in the first half.
“She had some great saves in that first half,” Harris said. “She really played some good ball.”
Jacksonville totaled 21 shots on goal, while the Rams totaled 12, seven coming in the first half.
The Rams are next scheduled to play West Carteret Thursday at Havelock High in their last match before the Easter break.
“We’ve got to get everything put back together,” Harris said of the injuries that have caused him to shuffle his lineup. “If we win that one and go into spring break 3-3 in the conference and then we can come out of spring break with everybody healthy and everybody back, you’ll see a whole different side of the Havelock Rams team.
“We’re still having a good season. It’s not where we were hoping to be, but we’ve now played three major games missing three major players, and that makes it tough.”