Mallory Roughton and Nash Central girls’ soccer coach John Warren are in agreement. Both want to see more shots come off the right foot of the Bulldogs senior.
And for players like Roughton, who is committed to play soccer next season at Lees-McRae College, having a green light means that goals are never far away. On Tuesday, Roughton scored three goals in the Bulldogs’ 3-0 win over visiting Tarboro.
All three goals came in the second half as Nash Central (1-3) found a way to generate offense after being turned away throughout the first half by the Vikings defenders and goalkeeper Trinity Hathaway.
“They have a pretty good defense and I think it took us playing a few games to find those runs and those lanes,” said Roughton, a four-year varsity starter. “We figured out how to make those attacking runs and get balls through to be able to score.”
The Bulldogs had opened the season with three consecutive losses and one combined goal. The lone goal came in Monday’s loss to Northern Nash, but the score was proof that Nash Central’s dry spell wasn’t going to last much longer.
Despite no goals, the first half wasn’t without chances as Roughton and freshman teammate Katherine Bailon took advantage of the Bulldogs’ time of possession and constant offensive pressure to manage multiple shots on net.
Each shot was skillfully turned away by Hathaway, who raced all over the box to chase down loose balls, scoring chances and shots on net. Tarboro, too, had a couple scoring chances, but it was most effective in stopping the Bulldogs forwards as defenders Gabby DeBlois, Trinity Close, Timaysia Thigpen and Tikaysia Thigpen each played an important role in keeping the score knotted at 0-0 through the first half.
Yet even as well as Tarboro (0-1) played, Roughton wouldn’t be silenced. The midfielder broke the scoreless tie with 25:44 left in the second half when she scored in front of the net on a Bailon assist.
Roughton made it 2-0 with 9:21 left, scoring from 30 yards out. She found space and booted a looping shot just over the head of the Vikings keeper and into the twine. It’s shots like those that Warren wants to see more often.
“I loved the second one. It was my favorite,” Warren said of his player’s trio of goals. “She always has the green light. The way I see it is if you take a 100 shots you have more chances to score than if you take one shot.”
The Vikings, down two goals, still played spirited defense and stopped a series of four consecutive corner kick opportunities by the Bulldogs. Roughton would score one more time, however, with just over three minutes to play to secure a hat trick and cap the scoring.
“On the second one, I saw the keeper was off her line a bit and I just tried a little chip over the top,” Roughton said. “It’s something I want to do more of,” she said. “I love those shots, where it’s just over the keeper and just under the bar.”
Nash Central is back in action when it hosts Smithfield-Selma at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. Tarboro hosts SouthWest Edgecombe at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.