HOLLY SPRINGS — In an unbeaten season, some coaches would rather see their team learn from a close win and keep the streak alive. But when the Holly Springs girls soccer team fell for the first time all year, coach Brian Miller felt satisfied.
Then he blew it all up.
In its next outing on Wednesday, Holly Springs took a 3-2 win in overtime against visiting Athens Drive.
“We needed to lose sooner or later because I didn’t think we had been playing well the last three or four games,” Miller said. “We needed someone to beat us, and right when (Fuquay-Varina) did (on Monday) the coaches met the next morning and we decided we were switching formations and changing everything.”
Holly Springs (9-1-2, 5-1-1), fifth in The News & Observer’s area rankings, went up first as Kirsten Bootes scored in the 23rd. The Golden Hawks were in a 3-5-2 formation instead of a 4-5-1.
“We focused more on attacking instead of winning it first. We just focused more on keeping the ball,” Holly Springs midfielder Dominique Babbitt said. “It helped me play more attacking. We were already organized (in the back), so it made it easier for me to track back.”
Just a minute later, No. 13 Athens Drive (7-6, 4-4) responded. Holly Springs’ defense had trouble clearing away danger and Athens Drive’s Allie Chason gathered it, got behind the defense and calmly placed her shot low enough that the hit shot through the goalkeeper’s legs.
Through regulation, neither team held the lead for longer than four minutes. The two teams each scored in the 42nd minute to open up the second half.
Athens Drive’s Riley Nociti curled in a 30-footer to the upper left-hand corner to put the Jaguars up 2-1.
Seconds later, Holly Springs was threatening the right side of Athens’ box. A dropped save from the goalkeeper left the net open for a K.J. Vollrath tap-in to tie it at 2-all.
The 2-2 score remained throughout the rest of regulation.
In overtime, Bootes muscled her way through the Athens Drive line and slotted in the go-ahead goal in the 83rd. She now has 13 goals in 12 games.
“It was a team effort, and I just happened to be in the right place,” Bootes said.
Athens Drive and Holly Springs will play for the second time this season on Monday to make up a game from earlier in the year.
The Jaguars won six of seven in a row before running into the top two teams in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference – Panther Creek and Holly Springs – for a brutal three-game stretch.
“We’ve been playing well recently. This is a tough week for us,” said Athens Drive coach Travis Seese, whose team gave up the winning goal to Panther Creek with less than two minutes to go. “We’ve gotten a lot better over the course of the year and I still think we’ll get a lot better by the time the end of the year rolls around. We’re making a lot of progress and I see them getting better every day.”
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps