Havelock goal keeper Amanda Alexander didn’t get much work in the second half against Washington Thursday night. She had gone nearly the entire half without having to make a save.
But when she needed to make a save, it came on a free kick with two minutes left and helped preserve a crucial 1-0 Coastal 3A Conference victory for the Rams at Havelock High.
“The defense played really strong and made me not have to do a lot of work,” Alexander said.
But with two minutes remaining, Washington’s Alana Jefferson had an opportunity from about 25 yards out on a free kick. She lofted a shot high, and Alexander jumped and managed to deflect the ball with her fingertips off the crossbar. Her defense then cleared the ball, and the Rams survived.
“You just have to get up there,” she said. “My fingers just hit it, and it hit the rail. When they came to get the rebound, I made sure I stayed on top of it, and my defense was there to clear it out.”
The play impressed Havelock coach Jeff Harris.
“The girl (Jefferson) put in a beautiful ball, and Amanda couldn’t have played it any better,” he said. “She did exactly what she had been practicing, punching the ball out. It unfortunately hit the goal, but the defense was right there. Amanda really stepped up, and that was the big one.”
Havelock controlled the second half, getting six corner kicks, while the Pam Pack managed just one. Washington keeper Emily Alligood made a point-blank save on Natalie Johnson, and then deflected another Johnson shot off the post to keep Havelock from adding to its lead.
“Their goalie did a great job,” Harris said. “She had some fantastic saves.”
The Rams got their goal 3:18 into the match. Johnson gained possession at midfield and drove up the left side. She centered the ball to Taylor Self who sent the ball into the lower right of the Washington net.
“I’ve been telling these girls for weeks that the way we’re going to win is pass, connect, put the ball in front of the goal and score,” Harris said. “They did that early in the first half. Natalie had a beautiful cross and Taylor Self was right where she was supposed to be and punched it into the goal.”
The Rams (11-6, 6-4) had lost to Washington (6-8-2, 4-7) earlier this year, and came into the contest looking for a victory to climb into third place in the Coastal Conference.
“Right now, we’ve got to focus on getting into the playoffs and getting there in the best spot we can get and be peaking at the right time,” Harris said. “The girls are aware of where they want to go.”
Harris said he continues to shuffle the lineup to make up for the absence of top scorer Ali Wickman, who was lost to a knee injury.
“We’re still trying to find who we are, but the girls are doing a good job of it,” he said. “I’m putting them in different places and they’re playing it and making it happen.”
He cited the hustle of Lauren Seegel, Erica Quinn and Dominique Martinez.
“That’s the way we’re going to win. We’re going to have to hustle,” Harris said. “We’re not going to outshine anybody. We’re going to have to outhustle them. That’s the way we’re going to beat them.”
Havelock is next scheduled to play at South Central on Tuesday.
For more photos from the match, click here: http://portal.havenews.com/photogallery/?CatID=6&AlbumID=2064