Princeton soccer falls to familiar foe

The Bulldogs’ Emma Marques clears the ball from danger in Princeton’s 3-1 loss against Neuse Charter in the third round of the state soccer playoffs. (Michael Held photo)

BY MICHAEL HELD

Sports editor

PRINCETON—The Neuse Charter girls soccer team has had Princeton’s number this season but an improved Bulldogs contingent had hope when the two familiar foes were matched up against each other in the third round of the NCHSAA 1A girls soccer playoffs.

After a scoreless first half that saw Princeton have the better of the chances, the Cougars once again proved they had the Bulldogs’ number as the Carolina Conference champions scored three goals in a 3-1 win.

The number that was most troubling to Princeton was that of No. 17 for Neuse Charter (17-2), Dargan Harris. In the 55th minute, the sophomore let fly on a free kick from over 30 yards out and skipped the ball into the side netting for the 1-0 advantage.

Late in the contest after the Bulldogs cut the lead to 2-1, Harris once again showed off her skill on another set piece, this one closer in but from a tougher angle, and she fired a bullet just under the crossbar to ice the game.

“It’s been pretty tit-for-tat both times we played them (in the regular season) and even all games but then in those little moments, when you’ve got to have the ball bounce your way, it’s just not gone our way against them,” Princeton coach Thomas Pilkington said. “That speaks to their quality”

In the opening half the best two scoring chances belonged to Princeton (14-6). Midway through the half, Allie Britt’s free kick from 25 yards out spun out of Neuse Charter goalkeeper Christine Starks’ hands and came close to crossing the line before Stark pounced on the loose ball. Later in the half, nice combination work led to Rachel Creech getting a sniff at goal from close range but her shot was deflected at the last second out for a corner kick.

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