When Terry Sanford’s Jared Miller talks about what makes him such a dangerous scorer in soccer, he doesn’t waste a lot of words.
“Being fast and being able to dribble,’’ he said.
But his Bulldog coach, Karl Molnar, said there’s a little more to it than that.
“He’s fast,’’ Molnar said. “He’s as fast with the ball as he is without. He changes directions a half second before you think he changes directions. His movements are so quick, he’s always a half step ahead of the defender.’’
Through Oct. 7, Miller leads Cumberland County Schools in scoring with 26 goals and four assists for a total of 56 points.
The Bulldogs are 14-1 overall and 10-0 in the Patriot Athletic Conference. They have a two-game lead on second-place Pine Forest, three up on Cape Fear. The Patriot Conference is a split 3-A/4-A league, so one 3-A and one 4-A team will each get a first-place berth in the playoffs.
Molnar said Miller has continued to fool him each season he’s been with the Bulldogs. “Every time you think they are going to figure him out, that they’ve got his number, he steps it up a notch,’’ Molnar said.
But while Miller has enough talent to be a prima donna if he chose, Molnar said he’s anything but that. “He’s just one of the guys and bonds well with everybody,’’ Molnar said. “He’s a very good team player.’’
It shows in talking with him as Miller prefers to talk about his teammates and not himself. He praised defense as a main reason the Bulldogs are leading the conference.
“Our defense is big,’’ he said, “our work ethic and our defense. We go hard in practice.’’
The Bulldogs are assured of a state playoff berth, but Miller isn’t looking ahead to the postseason.
“We can’t let our guard down against easy teams,’’ he said. “We have to keep our intensity up.’’
Molnar sees similarities in this Bulldog team and his 2016 team that advanced to the 3-A Eastern finals before losing to Chapel Hill 2-1.
“I think we’ve found our identity with stingy defense, the same as two years ago, and finding a way to score,’’ Molnar said.
“Two years ago, we did it off corner kicks and long throws. This year, it’s been Jared. He finds a way to score or set somebody up while the back line and goalkeeper are keeping other people from scoring.’’
Molnar feels the Bulldogs have continued to improve all season and have shown good chemistry between offense and defense in the last few weeks.
“If they continue to do that, we might go a little further than anticipated,’’ he said.
Photo: Jared Miller