CARY — The opportunities were there for Cardinal Gibbons but the Crusaders couldnt convert in the NCHSAA 3-A state final against Charlotte Catholic. Instead the Cougars withstood the Crusaders last charge and held on for the 2-1 victory Saturday afternoon at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Catholics Jane Cline scored both goals and was named tourney MVP in helping the Cougars to their first 3-A championship.
It was Catholics first 3-A title but third overall. Catholic (22-2-3) won A/AA titles in 2002 and 2003.
Ive always thought we were the best programs in the state, but you need to win a title, Catholic coach Gary Hoilett said.
For Cardinal Gibbons, it was their second straight runner-up finish.
We expected to be here but we expected to win this time. Not just be spectators like we were last year, Crusader coach Michele Miller said.
We just missed a lot of good chances. We were just a little bit off today but credit the other team, they scored on the couple chances we gave them, Miller added.
Cline started the scoring twenty minutes into the game when she received a feed from Lindsey Tully in the center of the goal box, turned and shot a rolling kick on goal. Keeper Kristin Twomey looked slow to react and her desperation dive wasnt enough to stop the ball from crossing the goal line.
The usually stingy Crusaders had allowed only five goals all season and only one in the playoffs entering the game.
I told them we needed to pick it up, Miller said of her halftime talk.
Cardinal Gibbons (20-1-1) opened the second half pressuring the Catholic defense that resulted in some scrambling in front of the Cougars net. A Crusader shot was blocked by the defense but a clearing kick deflected to Christina Gibbons who rifled a shot from 20 feet out that deflected off the crossbar and into the goal two minutes into the half.
We really felt like the second [goal] was a matter of time, Miller said after Gibbons tied the game.
Instead it was Cline responding with her second goal.
The teams appeared heading into overtime with only a little over eight minutes to play. Then a Cougar throw-in went to Lindsey Tully who passed to Cline on the right side. Cline fired a shot from 20 yards out toward the middle that appeared to deflect off a Crusader defenders head and into the left shoulder of Twomey. The ball caromed into the back of the net to break the tie and bring the Catholic faithful to their feet.
She knows what to do. She has the quality to put goals away, Hoilett said of Cline.
Gibbons tried to rallying in the final minutes, and generated three corner kicks in the final minute-and-a-half but the Cougar defense and goalkeeper Morgan Luckie was up to the task.
Its a championship game and you have to take the chances given you and we didnt do that, Miller said.
After the match, goalkeeper Twomey sat out of the award presentation and was attended to by trainers. Miller informed Twomey possibly had a concussion and was taken to the hospital for observation. Miller was unaware when the concussion occurred.