WENDELL — After scoring 57 goals in 20 games as a sophomore a year ago, what will Cleveland’s Emily Truelove do for an encore?
The junior started to answer that question Wednesday afternoon. Truelove assisted on the Rams’ only goal in regulation and then scored the game-winner in overtime as Cleveland squeezed by rival Clayton 2-1 Wednesday in a semifinal game of the Four Oaks Bank Cup at Corinth Holders High School.
The Rams will face West Johnston in the championship match with a date and time to be determined. The game will be a rematch of last year’s final and of Friday’s season opener, both of which were won by West Johnston.
Truelove scored the golden goal Wednesday from a sharp right angle 3:50 into overtime. But it was her passing that had coaches talking.
“The way she sees the field, the finesse she puts on the ball is just unbelievable. I’m just trying to find her feet and have the girls run off of her and work with her,” Rams coach Marissa Dimarco said. “She’s awesome. She’s definitely one of the most skilled players I’ve seen.”
That skill was on display six minutes and 28 seconds into the match when Truelove anticipated a seam and threaded a ball onto the foot of Courtney Morris. Morris, who later assisted on Truelove’s goal, outran a defender up the right side and beat Clayton goalkeeper Lauryn Kabrich for a 1-0 lead.
“It was a perfect ball Emily played,” Dimarco said. “Courtney had composure all the way to the goal and made a great finish.”
“What I try to tell the girls is that she’s not necessarily the one that’s going to score the goal but she distributes the ball so well,” Clayton coach William Williams said. “On the first goal, if you give her an opening she’s going to hit the pass. That’s how good she is, she doesn’t miss the pass and they finished on it.”
With 19 minutes left in a 1-0 game, Williams deployed an extra forward and the gamble paid off just two minutes later when Claudia Woznichak was the last to get a foot on a loose ball in front and tie the game.
“I pushed up to three forwards and we finally broke through,” Williams said. “It was a good game, I’m glad we came back in the second half. Both teams had tons of shots and they did a good job finishing at the end. We had plenty of chances ourselves.”
Morris, coming off a junior season in which she scored 18 times, returned the favor to Truelove in the overtime on a goal quite similar to the first. Same play, same names, reverse order.
“Both of them together up top worked excellent,” Dimarco said.
Katelyn Lowery secured the win in goal for the Rams.
Both 1-1 teams are still trying to find their footing with young lineups.
“We’re still trying to find a lineup,” Dimarco said. “We’re pretty young this year; we have a couple freshmen starting (Kendall Lamm and Cassidy McNierney). We’re just trying to see who’s going to give us their best and work hard and be committed.
“We’re still young and working together,” Williams said, “trying to figure out the best spots to put everybody.”