GARNER — The Garner girls soccer team is right where coach Joe Dennis wanted the Trojans to be as they approach the midpoint of the season: in the hunt for a conference title.
The veteran Trojans rolled past Rolesville 9-0 on Tuesday night to improve to 4-1-1 in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference and trail only West Johnston in the standings.
“I think we are where we want to be,” Dennis said. “Not necessarily with the loss to Clayton, but we wanted to be near the top of the league near the halfway point and give ourselves a chance to compete for the conference championship.
“We have the opportunity to do that.”
With nine seniors and four juniors on the roster, Dennis has plenty of experience and multiple options on offense. And he likes the fact that the Trojans are spreading the scoring around.
Senior Michaela Wycoff leads the Trojans (4-4-1 overall) with six goals after scoring a pair of goals against first-year school Rolesville on Tuesday. Seniors Hannah Hamlin and Bayleigh Adams have five goals each and eight Garner players have multiple goals for the seasons.
Dennis has stressed teamwork to his players – move the ball, find an open teammate and good things will happen.
“We move the ball well when we are playing well,” Dennis said. “When we do that, that is when we are playing at our best. Find teammates’ feet, keep your head up and find the next person, as few touches as possible.
“We tell them to put Garner before yourself. If you have an opportunity to get it to a teammate that is in a better position than you are, put it in there. You can tell that it is sticking because the goals and assists are so spread out.”
It’s an approach that is working for the Trojans, with some of the younger players getting into the flow Tuesday against Rolesville. Freshmen Lily Schild and Grace Bondurant also had two goals each for Garner.
In the first half of the league schedule, the Trojans tied defending Greater Neuse River champion West Johnston (5-0-1 in the league entering this week) 1-1 in a game that was shortened to a half because of weather. The Trojans lost 2-1 at Clayton in overtime.
In both games, Dennis said, the Trojans had opportunities but could not put the ball in the net.
“Finishing our opportunities (will be a key in the second half),” Dennis said. “We had a lot of opportunities to score against West, against Clayton, and we scored one goal each game. We created a lot of opportunities. We just need to finish them.”
For the Trojans, the goal is simple. Finish strong. Finish as conference champions.
“None of our seniors have won a conference title,” Dennis said. “That was a goal when we began the season. … to win one so they could go out with a championship.”