GREG MINTEL - newsobserver.com
Cardinal Gibbons' Monica Trickett, left, and Chapel Hill's Alex Kimball fight for a loose ball during the second half at Cardinal Gibbons High on Friday, May 20, 2011. Cardinal Gibbons won the game 3-0.
RALEIGH -- RALEIGH -- RALEIGH -- Monica Trickett knows shes not the fastest player on Cardinal Gibbons girls soccer team. That label goes to forward Morgan Reid, and with the ball at her feet, Trickett has watched Reid successfully execute one-man attacks all season.
Against Chapel Hill on Friday night, Trickett made the correct play for any midfielder watching a teammate run down the field with a breakaway opportunity: She moved toward the net instead of becoming a spectator.
Trickett ran more than 40 yards. Once she entered the penalty box, Trickett was able to score on a rebound after Chapel Hill goalkeeper Elani Mansfield saved Reids initial shot. Tricketts goal in the 30th minute sparked the Crusaders 3-0 win in the NCHSAA 3-A quarterfinals.
When your teammate is out there by herself you have to follow up, Trickett said. You never know what the keeper is going to do, and you feel so good when you score.
The Crusaders (19-0-1) will host Jacksonville (25-1) on Tuesday night in the East Regional Final.
I think were so united that we deserve to go to the finals and get that chance to win a state championship, Trickett said.
Coach Michele Miller was thrilled to see Trickett illustrate that unity by making her run alongside Reids.
Though Miller recognizes her team is full of talent, she said the effort shown by the Crusaders has been reason theyve advanced this far in these playoffs.
A play like that lets you know thats the heart and passion that this team plays with, Miller said. You talk about all the time, but when we really do like to dictate the tempo.
That aggressiveness by the Crusaders allowed them to score their goals in a variety of ways, which Miller says makes it difficult for opponents to defend them even if a team like Chapel Hill (15-5-3) had faced Cardinal Gibbons twice in the regular season.
We have so many players that we can go to, Miller said. We have six or eight girls that can get the job done when it comes to scoring.
Forward Kiki Davis scored her goal in the 60th minute. After winning possession of the ball in the penalty box on a cross, Davis was able to push her shot past Mansfield right before the two collided.
The ball rolled slowly and touched the left post before settling in the net.
It was one the line for about three seconds, Davis said of the ball. I was surprised it hit the post and went in.
Goalkeeper Kristin Twomey also made two difficult saves, including one where she pushed a shot by Chapel Hill forward Rebecca Malizia just over the crossbar.
The Crusaders extends their lead in the 74th minute when defender Casey Hachem scored a corner kick from Reid.
In the last match between the two teams, the Tigers allowed midfielder Caitlin Donovan, Cardinal Gibbons tallest player, to score each of her two goals on headers off corner kicks. Hachems goal was just another example of the depth Cardinal Gibbons has.
We knew they were going to be keying or certain individuals and not others on corners, Miller said. The beauty of our team is that at any given time we can rotate somebody else in the play. That was perfect goal by Casey.