KNIGHTDALE — The Knights on Monday did something neither they nor the Warriors had managed to do in more than two years of their boy’s soccer rivalry – break a tie.
Knightdale got a key goal out of a sophomore midfielder in his first start on the varsity team, and then held off a barrage of equalizer attempts by East Wake to claim a 2-1 victory.
Each of the prior three contests between the Knights (3-11, 2-5 Greater Neuse River 4A) and Warriors (3-5-2, 3-4) had ended in a knot. East Wake claimed the last win in the series with a 5-0 shutout in September 2011.
“At least there’s a decision this year,” Knightdale coach Andrew Vaglio said of the series with East Wake. “And this is huge. It shows our team we can play and gives us a little confidence.”
Monday’s win was the second straight for the Knights, who had snapped an 11-game streak of losses with a non-conference win over Rolesville the week before.
For East Wake, the loss continued a season-long trend of win one, lose one.
“We’re disappointed – not that we expected to win the game,” Warriors coach Michael Howes said. “(Knightdale) played a very good game tonight, while our finishing wasn’t really good. A couple of times we wasted opportunities that we normally take control of and at least put the ball on goal.”
Knightdale got its winning goal when Jesus Ibarra took a ball played by Teodulo Aguilar and relayed it into the back right corner of the net in the 65th minute.
“I just went in confident and just read the play,” said Ibarra, a sophomore who transferred from California in the spring. “I had a feeling the ball was going there, and I just went for it.”
The play took the sting out of a goal by East Wake’s Luis Chavez that tied the game 1-1 in the 56th minute. Knights keeper Henry Hagemann got a hand on the ball after Chavez’s one-touch strike out of the air, but the ball rolled behind Hagemann and he was unable to chase it down.
Knightdale’s Andreas Adell opened the scoring with a finish off a corner kick by his co-captain Chris Clifford 31 minutes in.
“When you’re trying to play from behind, it kind of takes a little bit of the steam out of you as you’re pressing,” Howes said.
The Knights denied three significant looks by East Wake in the final 8 minutes while they led by the final scoring margin.
Ryan Mays made a clutch clearing of the ball after East Wake’s Johnny Odette advanced it past Hagemann. Inside 2 minutes, East Wake’s Jamante Smith sent a shot off the right post, but the Knights booted the ball out. Seconds later, relief keeper Brayan Abarca snagged a clear shot by East Wake’s Jonathan Adams.
Aside from getting his point across on the scoreboard, Ibarra showcased his footwork and passing precision throughout the game – something Vaglio said should pay dividends in the future.
“He’s effective with the ball, he can deliver passes, he’s very active and he’s a sophomore,” Vaglio said. “So he’s certainly going to be a plus for us.”