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WENDELL — In a neighborhood rivalry which experienced four different injury stoppages, the Knightdale High girls soccer team knocked down the deciding point for a 2-1 decision over East Wake.
The Knights (1-1) and the Warriors (0-2) both entered the annual spring showdown on the heels of 9-0 losses in their respective debuts to Enloe and Wake Forest. However, with no love lost between the programs, pumping up for this challenge proved to be no problem.
Knightdale’s Guadalupe Castillo-Esparza accounted for 11 individual shots on goal. Her first chance recorded a bull’s-eye from 30 yards out less than three game minutes in. That early advantage lasted the next 15 minutes as her squad compiled a 16-7 total-shots-on-goal advantage.
East Wake ultimately responded using a Jada Vick invasion from the right wing. Her roller was rebuffed by a defender, whose ensuing clearance was intercepted by Charlise Almandi. Almandi picked off the pass and fired. That blow glanced off the keeper’s glove, then bounced off the underside of the crossbar before entering the hole with 4 minutes 48 seconds left in the first half. It was 1-1.
Knight Kai Williams attacked from the left wing 15 minutes later and laced a runner into the lower left pocket by diving Warrior keeper Jalessa Lopez. The Knights made that big blow count most the rest of the way.
To her credit, Lopez kept the Warriors in contention by rounding up 17 saves against plenty of pressure. She dealt with 11 enemy corner kicks, while her teammates were whistled for nine fouls in a close contact conflict.
Knightdale added another nine insurance tries in the second half, while East Wake countered with seven. Those guests mounted a last-minute charge, too. It netted a defender repel in front of the cage. Time ran out as that ricochet rolled away. Giving initial bragging rights to the Knights.
Knightdale will play its first NAC 6 conference game of the season against Heritage at home March 23 at 6 p.m. East Wake will play at Hunt Monday March 16 at 6 p.m.