In the sweltering heat, the Wayne Country Day boys’ soccer team opened its season with a 4-1 win over Neuse Christian Academy on Friday afternoon.
“It was hot, and I think we’re happy that we got the extra water break in each half,” Wayne Country Day head coach Steve Ellis said. “I knew there would be tired legs because of the heat and because it’s our first game, but I thought they did well.”
The Chargers came flying out of the gate, but despite a handful of chances to score a goal, Wayne Country Day could not find the back of the net.
But Preston Barnes opened the scoring for the Chargers in the 21st minute.
Off a corner kick, Riley Preble passed the ball to Anthony Valentine. Valentine then crossed the ball to Barnes, whose header was blocked by the Neuse Christian goalie, but Barnes quickly recovered the ball and smashed it into the top corner of the net.
“Preston headed it down, and it was a really good header, but their keeper made a really good save, but unfortunately for him, it went straight back to Preston,” Ellis said.
Three minutes later, Valentine scored a goal that gave the Chargers a 2-0 lead heading into halftime.
At the start of the second half, the Lions caught Wayne Country Day off guard and managed to cut the Chargers’ lead down to 2-1.
“Defensively, we were great. In the first half, we were totally in control. In the second half, we dropped too deep, and that put a lot of pressure on us,” Ellis said. “But we adjusted during the last 15 minutes, and we played much better.”
Andrew Sherman put the game out of reach in the 71st minute when he raced on to a pass from Thomas Gurley and fired a shot past the outstretched goalie to increase Wayne Country’s lead up to 3-1.
In the 76th minute, Valentine scored his second goal of the game.
“We scored those goals because we were higher up the field in transition,” Ellis said.
Wayne Country Day (1-0 overall) hosts Cape Fear Academy on Tuesday.