By RYAN HERMAN
DENVER –– With its biggest scoring threat on a field trip Lincoln Charter needed someone else to step up.
Caitlyn Miller said, “I’ll do it.”
Miller scored four goals and assisted on another as the Eagles stayed unbeaten in the Southern Piedmont 1A Conference with a 5-1 win over visiting Cherryville on Wednesday.
With Tori Jackson and her team-leading six goals out of the lineup, coach Dane Perry challenged Miller with the task of playing to her full potential.
Miller, a senior with only two goals on the season coming in, answered the call.
“(Coach Perry) definitely encouraged me because I haven’t been playing up to my potential,” the junior said. “Our main player wasn’t here today, too, so I needed to step up.”
Things started rocky for the Eagles (8-4, 2-0), who share the league lead with Community School of Davidson and Pine Lake Prep.
Cherryville took advantage of a loose ball that slipped behind the Lincoln Charter defense, and Molly Whitworth headed it in –– nearly butting heads with Eagles keeper Katherine Doyle –– from just outside the top of the 18-yard box for the early 1-0 lead.
Lincoln Charter had three chances to tie in the next three minutes –– twice on penalty kicks and once on a breakaway –– but all three shots went wide.
Two of those shots were off the foot of Miller, but she more than made up for it by connecting on her next three attempts.
Miller’s assist got the Eagles on the board 11 minutes in. She placed a perfect cross right in front of the goal for Kali Snider, who punched it in for the tie.
The teams stayed tied for nearly the next 20 minutes, until a flurry of goals put it out of reach.
Miller connected with 9:05 left in the first half, then scored again on an assist from Snider 19 seconds later.
Miller made it 4-1 at the 5:54 mark on a Bend-It-Like-Beckham shot that curved around the keeper into the top right corner of the net.
Snider scored roughly 90 seconds later, but the goal was called off due to offsides.
“Most of the time we usually get down on ourselves, but I think we did a really good job of staying focused and trying to come back and score more because we knew that we could,” Miller said.
After the slow start, the Eagles didn’t look back.
Miller scored the final goal with 21:03 to play on an assist from Elizabeth Brethen.
“It’s just getting the continuity and flow down. Come out slow, which we absolutely did,” Lincoln Charter coach Dane Perry said. “I’m just glad we did choose to respond. Caitlyn, I don’t know what else to say about that performance. The 4-1 halftime lead was pretty much a one-man show, even though she had three of them and assisted on the other.
“She only had two goals going into the game, which was totally unlike her, and I told her it was time to explode,” Perry added, “and she took my word.”