TROUTMAN — No. 8 South Iredell (14-5) cruised into the second round of the 3A women’s soccer playoffs with a 4-1 victory over No. 25 Stuart Cramer (8-8) Tuesday night.
The Vikings used patient passing and strong finishing around the net to jump out to a 1-0 lead on a Lindsay Durham goal in the 16th minute.
Roughly 10 minutes after Durham’s opening goal, Mariah Hill added what would be the game-deciding goal in the 26th minute to give South Iredell a 2-0 lead.
The Storm added a goal of their own on a breakaway by Karis Peterson in the 31st minute to cut the Vikings’ lead to one going into the break.
But as good teams do, South Iredell responded out of the break, adding to its lead on Hill’s second goal of the night off a beautiful build-up and Durham assist. Vikings head coach Marissa Wingate said she was happy with her team’s performance, especially her forwards and wings.
“I thought we played well tonight,” Wingate said. “Our outsides up top, Hill and Tae Brown I thought played fantastic.”
Durham added another assist on a Brown goal to give the Vikings a 4-1 lead in the 70th minute and put away any hope of a comeback by the Storm. She finished the game with a goal and two assists and one happy coach in Wingate who has watched Durham battle back from a serious knee injury.
“We are a different team with her on the field,” Wingate said. “Every coach in our conference made that comment. She’s that good.”
The junior has only recently returned to action for the Vikings and only played about 30 minutes per half on Tuesday night. Wingate said getting her back into the flow of things has been important.
“We started her at 15 minutes a half after discussing it with her physical therapist, doctor and our trainer and she’s worked her way up to 30 now,” Wingate said. “She’s honest with us and lets us know when she needs a break.”
With the win, the Vikings move on to the second round where they will host No. 9 seed Asheboro. The Blue Comets defeated No. 24 Western Guilford 1-0 in the first round. Wingate said she knows her team is not ready to go home and expects them to be prepared for round two.
“They are definitely ready to make a run for it in playoffs,” Wingate said. “We have a little experience and some new fresh legs out there, so we are excited.”