OAKWOOD — Madeline McCarthy wants to be a difference maker for the Flowery Branch girls soccer program. On a roster ripe with youth, the Lady Falcons’ senior midfielder sees it as her place to bring a little energy to the pitch as they get ready for the main stretch of games in Region 8-AAAAA.
“We’ve a very different squad this year, we’re young,” said McCarthy, who scored an early goal en route to a 3-0 non-region win against Johnson on Tuesday in Oakwood. “We’re not a team that’s going to rely on just one player to score goals.”
With a goal from three separate players in the midfield, and a strong defensive effort, Flowery Branch coach Katie Scali said it was the kind of effort she desires. With the late afternoon kickoff, Scali said the sudden bump in the temperature over eight games was an adjustment for both teams.
“We’ve had a couple of games where I wasn’t happy with our performance, but we played better today,” Scali said.
Flowery Branch (4-3-2) avoided allowing a goal on a Johnson penalty kick late in the opening half. The Lady Falcons did a good job on the defensive end redirecting the ball, led by Elise Lewis, among a number of others.
McCarthy’s goal was an athletic move with her right leg fully extended to kick the ball around a nearby defender and into the open goal, just four minutes into play. Her play has been steady for Flowery Branch, including a two-goal effort in its lone region loss in overtime to Lanier on March 10.
After McCarthy got Flowery Branch on the board, the Lady Falcons kept a strong attack offensively against Johnson, which had its only flow going with the ball early in the second half. Before halftime, Aneesa Jones was in the right spot to gain control of the ball and fire it into the back of the net from about 10 yards, after the Lady Falcons missed a corner kick.
The Lady Falcons’ final goal came from Morgan Wadsworth with a chip shot over the keeper’s arm 10 minutes into the second half.
Even though Johnson (2-5-1) started to find some success moving the ball down the pitch in the latter half of the match, Lewis and the rest of the Flowery Branch defense did a sound job of clearing the ball.
After a non-region home match against Hebron Christian on Friday, Flowery Branch will play seven straight in region play to wrap up the regular season.
“I felt like our defense really did a good job tonight,” McCarthy said. “I’m excited to see how we’re going to play the rest of the way in our region.”
JOHNSON BOYS 2, FLOWERY BRANCH 1: The third-ranked Knights (8-1) scored on early goals from Fernando Carrillo and Jamie Rosales, then withstood an energetic effort from Flowery Branch (1-8) in the second half.
Carrillo’s shot into the goal came 12 minutes into the game with a shot over the Flowery Branch keeper. Rosales scored just four minutes later on a sweeping kick with his right foot that traveled into the left side of the net for the goal.
Even though the Falcons fell down by two early, they received a spirited effort by goal keeper Cade Minton, who made three nice saves on Johnson shots.
The Falcons found the back of the net with a shot by Sebastian Fernandez from 15 yards out midway through the second half.
Johnson junior forward Fabian Abarca came close to a goal early in the second half, but was just wide of the net with a shot on the ground by about a foot. Abarca was injured in the game’s first minute when he was kicked in the groin, but quickly returned. He also took a hard fall, after being tripped five minutes later.
Even though the overall record doesn’t look good, Flowery Branch coach Rick Godfrey said his program is putting forth a respectable effort, and should benefit when a handful of injured players are able to return to the pitch.
“We gave a lot of effort out there tonight,” said Godfrey.
The Falcons are now 1-1 in Region 8-AAAAA play, with their loss coming 1-0 on penalty kicks against Lanier seven days earlier. Five of Flowery Branch’s losses are by one goal.
On Friday, Johnson returns to region play with a game against Madison County in Danielsville.