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Lady Cougars take control of title race by defeating Princeton

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SMITHFIELD — The Neuse Charter varsity girls soccer team took control of the wheel in the race for the 1-A Carolina Conference championship with a comeback win over Princeton at home April 10.

The Lady Cougars (10-3, 7-1 CC) fell behind two goals in the first 23 minutes of the game, but scored five unanswered goals to win 5-2. Two of the five goals were scored by junior leader Dargam Harris and she also assisted on one.

“They put two on us real quick, I was a little nervous,” Neuse Charter head coach Jonathan Gaskins said. “In the second half, they came out and played. They knew what this game was all about. She’s (Harris) a leader out on the field. She knows when the opportunities are to score and played one heck of a game. She came out and took over the game for us.”

The Lady Bulldogs (9-2, 6-2 CC) got an early scoring punch from senior Rachael Creech’s two goals. But when Neuse Charter came back, the offense for Princeton didn’t get as lucky as passes and shots were just inches off from scoring.

“Toward the latter parts of the game when they came back, we had our chances as well — just couldn’t find the back of the net,” Princeton head coach Thomas Pilkington said. “We played well in spurts, just had some moments where we gave up some tough goals, and that’s a quality team. They’re a top-notch side and they had our number tonight.”

Neuse Charter has to win its last four conference games to clinch the title. The Lady Cougars have won 10 of their last 11 games after starting 0-2, with the lone loss coming March 28 to Rosewood — which Neuse will see on April 30.

“It’s a good thing for a coach to make sure they don’t get too overconfident and that we win out the rest of the season,” Gaskins said. “At least we’re in the driver’s seat for the championship right now.”

Princeton defeated Rosewood (5-5-1, 4-3 CC) on April 3 and hope that Neuse may lose again to give the Lady Bulldogs a chance at the conference title. Princeton’s only conference losses has come from Neuse Charter.

“You never know, anything is possible in this game,” Pilkington said. “The ball can bounce a funny way, the ball can hit someone and go in. It’s just one of those things where you can only control what you can control and let the chips fall where they may.”

Sophomore Courtney Wojtkowski and junior Kaitlyn Cole both scored the first two goals to tie the game up for Neuse Charter. Senior Sarah Gaskins also scored a goal and an assist. Sophomore Delaney Harris also nabbed an assist.