By Jacob Hancock
The Daily Record of Dunn
FOUR OAKS — In another game where South Johnston soccer looked to be in control, the Trojans lost to Smithfield-Selma at home 3-2 on Monday, Sept. 24.
South got out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to a spectacular stretch of play from sophomore attacking midfielder Bruce Miranda.
After the Spartans committed a foul just at the edge of their defensive third that resulted in a yellow card, Miranda played a brilliant ball that found senior striker Bryan Martinez, who found the back of the net to put South up 1-0 with 17 minutes to play in the half.
Minutes later, Miranda popped up again. This time he corralled a failed Spartan clearance and, from quite a distance, lofted the ball over the keeper’s head with perfect precision.
“It’s a great spark when someone puts on a performance like that,” South Johnston coach David Diviak said of Miranda’s play. “I think it lifts everyone up, and they know what we are capable of, but we’ve got to play a full 80 minutes. We can’t rely on a flashy play here or there and expect to come away with a win. We’ve got to work, we’ve got to grind and we’ve got to want it more than the team across the field.”
A two-goal lead is commonly labeled as the most dangerous in soccer, often lulling the leader into a false sense of security. South fell into that trap, conceding a goal less than two minutes after going up 2-0.
“You want to see us take advantage of opportunities,” Diviak said. “That’s one area where tonight, I thought we had a better run of play and we jumped out to a two-goal lead. But then we got a little lazy, got caught ball-watching and we gave one up before the half. We probably shouldn’t have given up. We let them right back in the game.”
Within the first four minutes of the second half, the Trojans conceded again. Suddenly their 2-0 lead had been erased.
The second half at times looked like more of a track meet than a soccer match. South kept a very high backline, which led to several one-on-one breakaways between Smithfield-Selma forwards and South keeper Kaven Barco. Barco ventured far out of his goal and made a lot of key clearances. But with five minutes left, a Spartan forward was able to get around Barco and put the ball into the empty net, giving Smithfield-Selma the 3-2 victory.
“We need to operate more as a unit rather than four individuals in the back,” Diviak said. “When we get one or two guys not on the same page it all falls apart and you end up with a goalie on an island. I think we need to do a better job of communicating.”
The loss dropped the Trojans to 4-5 on the season and 0-2 in conference play.