With junior Natalie Johnson and freshman Dominique Martinez up top, and five reliable defenders, Havelock soccer coach Jeff Harris feels his team can match up with anyone.
Johnson and Martinez have 35 combined goals, while the defense has eight shutouts.
The Rams (14-7), the No. 4 seed from the Coastal Conference, is scheduled to play at Cleveland (18-1) at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the first round of the 3A soccer playoffs.
“We feel pretty confident,” Harris said. “I’ve been looking through stuff, and I think we compare with anybody.”
Johnson and Martinez have stepped up their play following a mid-season injury loss to Ali Wickman, who had been the team’s leading scorer.
The Rams have 70 goals on the season. Johnson leads the Rams with 18 goals and eight assists, while Martinez has 16 goals and 10 assists, and Ashley Bickel has contributed seven goals and seven assists.
“It’s been a journey to see who we were going to put up front,” Harris said. “Together, they are a pretty good combination.”
Havelock enters the contest having won its last two games, outscoring West Carteret and West Craven by a combined 12-2.
Cleveland won the Eastern Carolina Conference championship and finished the regular season with an 18-1 record. During its 16-game win streak, it has 102 goals. Emily Truelove leads Cleveland with 55 goals and 21 assists. She has accounted for more than half of the team’s goals on the season. Twice this year she has scored six goals in a game, and she has scored five goals in a game two other times. Courtney Morris is second on the team with 18 goals.
“I was talking to (Jacksonville) coach Miller and he said, ‘don’t let that fool you because that’s a weak conference,” Harris said.
Goalkeepers Amanda Alexander and Caitlin Annunziata have eight shutouts for the Rams. The defense of Emily Spink, Kaitlyn Tripp, Aliyah Cruz and Janae Mays have limited opponents to 33 goals. The Rams have a strong midfield core that includes Lauren Seegel, Alexis Delacruz, Erica Quinn and Taylor Self.
The winner of Tuesday’s match plays either White Oak (16-4) or Triton (9-10).
“I like the seeding that we have because if we get by Cleveland, we would probably play White Oak again,” Harris said. “We’ve played White Oak solid twice, and I think we can give them another good game now that we have all the combinations in the right place.”