RALEIGH — Wednesday’s game was Senior Night for Leesville Road, but a Millbrook senior stole the show. Jackie Stroud scored two goals for Millbrook, including the game-winner, as the Wildcats rallied in the second half for a 3-2 victory.
Stroud got going early, scoring less than three minutes into the game. Leesville coach Paul Dinkenor said nerves might have had a lot to do with his team giving up such a quick goal.
“I think we got caught up in the moment early on,” he said. “It was a pretty bad goal to give up.”
Leesville didn’t stay down long. Rachel Radulovich scored with 30:36 remaining in the first half to tie the score. Neither team score again before halftime.
Nine Leesville Road seniors were honored at halftime. The decorated class was recognized for winning three consecutive Cap Eight regular season titles and a state championship among other honors.
Leesville started the second half with a goal from senior Nicole Gooch for a 2-1 lead with more than 27 minutes remaining. They sat on the lead for more than 10 minutes before Millbrook made its move.
Rebecca Costa scored to tie the score at 2, and Stroud made the game-winning goal with 7:13 remaining. Despite her individual performance, Stroud said it was a team effort.
“We went down for a little bit,” she said. “Once we realized that we needed to get our heads in the game, we kind of all picked it up together.”
Millbrook coach Matt Edwards credited seniors Stroud and Rachel Hallman with providing the leadership necessary to pull off the comeback win.
“They are consistent,” he said. “They’re here every game; they are the top players for us every game. When the other players see them playing, there’s no other option than to just lay it out there.”
Dinkenor said his team failed to close out the game.
“We played well enough to win the game for 70 minutes,” he said. “We should have had the game in hand by then, but we kind of let them off the hook. Is it a teaching tool? We’ll find out on Monday.”
Monday is the start of the Cap Eight conference championship.
“We’re going to try to get focused on a three-game season,” he said. “Three games against Cap Eight competition, that’s harder than everybody in the state has to play.”