GARNER — Fuquay-Varina girls soccer coach Jeff Nelson knows it’s way too early for him to have a good grasp on what his team can accomplish this season.
However, after the Bengals dispatched of Garner 5-1 in their season opener, it’s safe to say Nelson likes what he sees so far.
Sophomore forward Megan Greene notched a pair of goals and a pair of assists as Fuquay-Varina dominated play in the midfield to help keep the ball in the Trojans’ half of the field for much of the game.
“We have a good chemistry on the team I think but there are a lot of things left to prove yet,” Nelson said. “We’ve got the basis of a good team--the midfield is strong and the attack is pretty good. If we can stay organized as a defense and work as a team, we’ll do well this season.”
It was the Bengals’ offense that showcased its abilities early as Greene found Christina Oliveras and then Mackenzie Ramage for a pair of early goals before Maura Coolbaugh gave Fuquay-Varina a 3-0 lead 15 minutes before halftime when she collected a loose ball in the box and converted.
Garner, which had a difficult time up to that point at getting the ball away from the strong Bengals midfield (Valerie Beisack, Rebekah Furr, Ramage and Kelly Suggs) when clearing the ball, began to do a better job at maintaining possession as it transitioned from defense to offense.
The Trojans (0-2) found life late in the first half when Michaela Wycoff gained control of the ball in the Bengals’ defensive third and blasted a shot off the left goal post and in to cut the lead to 3-1.
“If we move the ball like we did the last 20 minutes of the first half and we play to feet, we look dangerous,” Garner coach Joe Dennis said. “But that was about the only time we did that tonight.”
If there was any doubt of the outcome, Greene did her best to erase it in the first 15 minutes of the second half. First, she headed home a perfectly placed corner kick from Rebekah Furr and then capitalized on a break away that resulted from a nice through ball from defender Sarah Casanave.
Due to the wintry weather that has spilled over into the spring, the Bengals didn’t get to have any scrimmages as originally planned and the game against the Trojans was Fuquay-Varina’s first real game action of the season.
“This team has the moxie to do good things but they really do have to come together because it’s a young team,” Nelson said of his team which starts a pair of sophomores and one freshman. “Talk is cheap; we have it there but can we bring it all together to forge a team? That will be our goal.”
Dennis feels that the shortened preseason brought about by weather cancellations of games and practices has played a factor in his team’s conditioning level, noting “Mother Nature has been our hardest opponent so far.”
Garner hopes the luxury of having a proven offensive weapon up top (Bayleigh Adams) and a reliable goal stopper at the back (goalkeeper Elizabeth Pittman) will be a good foundation for this year’s squad.
“Elizabeth Pittman saves us quite a few goals that we should have given up and Bayleigh Adams up top works extremely hard to pressure the back,” Dennis said.
Taylor Cooke, Hannah Hamlin and Lily Schild will be called upon to help push the attack and freshman Grace Bondurant brings energy off the bench and to the Garner midfield.