HIGH POINT — Southwest Guilford responded well after a bit of a slow start.
The Cowgirls, led by a strong first-half effort by Kendall France to give her team the lead, scored the final five goals of the match to beat Western Guilford 5-1 in Piedmont Triad 3A Conference girls soccer Tuesday at Southwest.
“It seems to be our norm to let one in early,” Southwest coach Rob Szitas said. “Western’s a dangerous team — they have some good players up front. So, that really worried me. But I think getting the equalizer really settled us back down. And that was key.
“Kendall’s always had a nose for the goal, and she was able to place her shots well. We thought we’d have enough speed up top that, if we play behind them, that we’d be able to outrun them. Kaitlyn (Wykoff) proved that, taking the ball 50 yards and scoring.”
France scored three goals to lead the Cowgirls (3-1-1 overall, 2-0 PTC), who were playing their first match following spring break. Kaitlyn Wykoff and Kate Church added a goal apiece, while Maddie Vaughn had three assists.
“After a week, week and a half off after spring break we pulled it together,” said France, a senior midfielder/forward. “We definitely dominated and we were feeling a little bit confident after we got the first two goals. So, I’m proud of us.”
The Hornets (1-4, 1-2) took the lead in the seventh minute on a shot from the left side that lofted over the goalkeeper and found the right-side netting. But Southwest maintained pressure over the final 30 minutes to take a 3-1 lead into halftime.
France dribbled through the defense near the top of the penalty area and slid in a shot in the 13th minute to even the match. Then she booted in a shot off Vaughn’s corner kick in the 21st minute and worked through the defense along the left side for a score with 6.1 seconds remaining in the half.
“It’s always fun to score for my teammates,” France said. “And I try my best to set them up, but when I see an opportunity I’m definitely going to take it. We got scored on and we were down, and everyone on our team hates to lose just as much as the next.
“It was good. It was definitely a confidence booster. We’ve had a few rough practices over the past few weeks, and I really think we just needed to come together as a team and know that we can do this — we’re good players and one bad day isn’t who we are.”
In the second half, Wykoff took the ball near midfield and outran the defense the rest of the way to extend Southwest’s lead in the 61st minute, and Church converted off a nice centering pass by Vaughn in the 73rd minute as the Cowgirls continued to pull away.
“I think we definitely started off (the season) slow,” France said. “It’s been interesting because of COVID — some people didn’t have their club season, playoffs and stuff like that got canceled. So, it definitely took a little while to get into it.
“And we have quite a few new players this year, and we don’t know each other as well because the season got canceled last year. So, I think it’s taken us a few weeks to get to know each other. But now we’re pretty tight-knit and we’re getting it together.”
Jamie Oleson made three saves for Southwest, which outshot Western 19-7 for the match. The Cowgirls, who are tied with Mount Tabor atop the conference standings, will visit the N.C. Leadership Academy this evening before taking on rival High Point Central on Friday at 5 p.m. at the High Point Athletic Complex.
“It has been a learning curve, and slowly but surely we’re coming together,” Szitas said. “We’ve got a lot of new faces — we have three freshmen on varsity. It’s a learning curve, but we’re getting there. I’m glad spring break’s over,” he said with a laugh, “in a soccer sense, so we keep in a rhythm.”