RALEIGH — When Millbrook fell 2-1 at conference foe Wakefield earlier this month, Wildcats coach Matt Edwards said he hoped the loss would be good for Millbrook, which entered the season as one of the nation’s top-ranked teams, in the long run.
“One of the hardest things with expectations is no one tells you how deal with it,” Edwards said. “You don’t need any motivation to go play against teams that are supposed to be really good or supposed to be better than you or supposed to be highly ranked, but when you’re that (highly-touted team) you don’t really understand how to go the other way, and you’re getting everybody’s best effort.”
The Wildcats began the year 4-2, also dropping the season-opener to Panther Creek.
“I think it really took us taking things for granted, us getting kind of knocked down a bit, to help us really put some things in perspective,” Edwards said. “We’re good. We’re lucky to have talent, but we’re going to have to earn everything. Not only is our conference good, but we’re playing one of the toughest schedules around, and I think that we’re better for it. So are we undefeated? No. Do we have all of this huge national hype because we’re undefeated? No. But I think that we’re a better team today because of the losses.”
Edwards said the Wildcats played like a team that had learned from those early season shortcomings Wednesday. Millbrook came out firing, more than doubling Wakefield’s shots on goal in the first half before Wildcats senior Cailyn Boch crossed back and fired a shot into the left corner of the net off of Wakefield keeper Alexis Feeley, who had held the Wildcats at bay until that point, in the 34th minute.
Wakefield had a chance to tie in the 55th minute when junior midfielder Kat McDonald got off a clean shot that ricocheted off the inside of the right post. Millbrook would hold on for the 1-0 win.
The game was a test for both programs, as neither team had held more than one practice since the March 13 meeting after multiple school day cancellations due to inclement weather.
“It’s impossible to prepare,” said Wakefield coach C.J. Komons. “You cannot prepare because we don’t see the girls and you can’t meet with them because of weather and there’s nothing you can do about it, so the only thing we can do is get them psyched up, and they were ready to play. We played well. I mean, we didn’t tie it by what, a quarter of an inch? So we had our chances. It just didn’t fall our way.”
Millbrook will face Heritage Monday and nationally-ranked Cap Eight rival Leesville Road on Wednesday. Wakefield will play at Broughton Monday and then host Heritage Wednesday.