New Bern girls soccer coach Tim Guter wanted to see his team get off to a quick start in its first match of the year at Havelock. But even he couldn’t imagine how quickly.
The Bears scored 15 seconds into their season and went on to defeat Havelock 2-1 Thursday night.
“Obviously scoring in the first 15 seconds, we put them on their heels,” Guter said. “We were looking to score early on them and make them chase the game.”
Havelock had possession to start the match but quickly turned the ball over. Sierra Boundurant fed to the ball to Brittany McLawhorn in front for the first goal just 15 seconds into the match.
“On the kickoff, to give up a goal like that, that’s a killer,” Havelock coach Jeff Harris said. “We gave up two really cheap goals because we didn’t take care of the ball like we should have.”
The Rams struggled to recover as New Bern controlled the ball for most of the first half. Havelock then used its speed to even the match halfway through the period when Dominique Martinez acquired the ball in the midfield and passed to a sprinting Ali Wickman, who scored on the Havelock’s first shot on net.
“In the first half, we were giving them too much space,” Guter. We were jumping and they were getting in behind us.”
But the Bears continued their solid play in the midfield. Havelock turned the ball over on a goal kick, and Boundurant again set up McLawhorn with what turned out to be the winning goal.
“We don’t have the big kick from the back,” Harris said. “We don’t have the person that can clear it on the goal kicks, so we’ve got to get a little more aggressive in the midfield when the ball doesn’t make it there.”
New Bern had seven shots on goal to Havelock’s two in the first half, but in the second half, both teams had opportunities. The Bears had five corner kicks but failed to convert, and had five shots within 25 yards that missed wide or high.
The Rams had more of an offensive threat in the second half. Lauren Seegel’s work in the right corner set up Natalie Johnson’s shot that Martinez deflected toward the left post, but Bear keeper Morgan Young made a diving save, helping preserve the victory.
“I thought we played much better in the second half,” Guter said. “We played with a little bit more discipline. That’s what we’re going to have to do. We have to get used to playing with more discipline and not necessarily having everyone running and chasing the ball all over the place.”
Harris said opening with a tough 4A opponent and playing the Bears even in the second half was a good start to the season.
“Overall, we’ve got a lot to work with, but we’ve got some things we have to take care of,” he said. “In the second half, we played a very solid game, but we’ve got to get beyond solid to get into some good stuff in order to head towards the championships that we want to do and think we can do. We’ve got a lot of talent on this team, but it’s about putting it together, and we’ve got some work to do.”