RALEIGH — Wakefield entered Wednesday’s matchup with Conference 3 foe Broughton having given up no more than eight goals in a game this season.
After surrendering six Caps goals in the first 13 minutes of play of the midseason league battle, Wakefield (8-0), ranked No. 3 in the state on laxpower.com, didn’t rattle. The Wolverines mounted a 5-1 run to close the half, holding the Caps scoreless for 12 minutes until a Caps goal with 7.4 seconds remaining before the break.
“It was huge,” said Wakefield goalie Jessica Lynch, who stopped six straight Broughton shots to help the Wolverines lead 9-7 at halftime. “We got our confidence back, and soon as we get that back we start playing better and we’re more comfortable.”
Broughton wouldn’t lead again in the matchup that saw Wakefield lead by as many as three goals and included eight ties.
Broughton (7-2) was ranked No. 8 entering the game with its only loss coming from undefeated Lake Norman in the season opener. Wednesday’s loss was the Caps’ first in conference play as Wakefield remained undefeated overall.
With perennial Conference 3 power Cardinal Gibbons moved to Conference 2 this year, the league title is up for grabs between the two squads.
“For both of us I think (the matchup is) much bigger without Gibbons because of the look of our conference, and we only play each other twice, and that’s going to decide who gets a bye in the first round of the state tournament, and I think that’s why it’s so big,” said Wakefield coach Denna Grasso. “We were expecting it to be a goal-goal-goal game. ... They had some really great scorers, and luckily we have some really good scorers too, and I think our defense and our goalie really stepped up.”
Abby Blakely led all scorers with six goals for Wakefield. Julie Anna Pretty chipped in four, and Hanna Anderson and Ashley Blawas (two assists) each scored three.
Kelsey Dupere led the Caps with five goals and three assists while Sydney Fry netted four goals and two assists. Journey Carrion added three Broughton goals.
“We expected to win, no doubt,” said Broughton coach Patricia Alexander. “We were expecting that it was going to be a super close game, but we knew it was probably going to come down to the wire somewhat just like it did. I think if we didn’t hit six pipes it might have helped a little bit, but that’s all right. I’m proud of how our girls played and how we came together and pushed to the end.”
The Caps kept up the attack, with two Broughton shots hitting the goalpost in the final six minutes. Carrion found the net to pull Broughton even at 15 points apiece with 2:02 remaining in the game before Pretty responded with the go-ahead score for Wakefield with 1:15 remaining.
The Wolverines won the draw and stalled until Anderson’s goal with 16.6 seconds on the clock gave Wakefield enough cushion to secure the win.
“We have things to keep working on, which is great,” Alexander said. “We’re in the second half of our season and I’m looking forward to fine tuning some things. ... I think at the end when they did the stall, we didn’t step up sooner and we didn’t cross over to double opposite side. I mean, with two minutes left, we all know you can score in six seconds in women’s games, so I think that hurt us. We’ll work on a few things that I saw that we really need to work on, and I’m excited to play them again in May.”
The teams meet again at Wakefield in the regular season finale May 2.