CARY — Charlotte Myers Park players were rejoicing all around Green Hope captain Will Moore. Moore celebrated too, confident that the opposition's miraculous bicycle kick that kissed the right post and went into the net would not count.
Moore was right.
He and his teammates had just won the school's first NCHSAA boys soccer state championship with a 2-1 overtime victory on Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park.
As time ticked down in the second overtime period, Myers Park's Diego Suarez went for the bicycle kick attempt. The ball reached the goal a half-second too late to count.
"What a great goal that was," Chadwick said. "That was scary. And my thought was 'OK, if that was going to be a real goal, how do we come back from that?'"
But no such comeback was needed. The Falcons were 4A champs.
Chadwick had already determined that his 10th season would be his last as head coach of the Falcons. He ended his tenure with a 185-44-18 record, a state title and a drenched suit. Green Hope's players doused him with a large cooler of ice water after the game.
Even in the final seconds, it was never certain that the Falcons were going to send their coach out a winner. Momentum switched often in a game that featured two of the country's top-20 soccer teams -- Green Hope (25-1) is ranked No. 7 by ESPN Rise while Myers Park (22-3-1) is No. 18.
The Mustangs were the aggressors throughout the opening 10 minutes, scoring when Suarez's free kick from the top right of the box skidded by and under multiple players from both sides.
Green Hope trailed from the 36:10 mark on and entered halftime down 1-0.
"We weren't giving up. We came this far, we were taking home the 'ship," Moore said.
The Falcons began thwarting Myers Park's offense with Moore, a center back, and defensive midfielder Kellen Foster playing a huge role. As Green Hope controlled possession, they set up numerous set pieces. Those chances led to their first goal.
After a corner kick from junior Ryan Thompson was batted around in the box, senior Fraser Murphy volleyed in the Falcons' first goal with 26:54 left in the second half.
Despite close calls from both sides over the game's final 20 minutes, regulation ended with the two still locked in a stalemate.
So did the first of two 10-minute overtime periods, which are played to their completion without a golden goal.
"I don't know if it was a great performance, but it was definitely gutsy," Chadwick said.
Green Hope senior Drew Altman attacked the left flank and made a deep run into the box before laying the ball back for teammate Rodrigo Ortiz. Ortiz, who moved into the state just this year, scored what held up as the game-winner and most important goal in school history.
"I saw the run that Drew was making down the line and coach kept telling us 'he's going go down the line, that's how you're going to score,'" Ortiz said. "I knew he was going to cut it in, so I had to just get a read on one defender and push it in."
Myers Park became desperate in the game's final minute, pushing even their goalkeeper up to try and score on throw-in after throw-in which -- except for the final bicycle kick by Suarez -- were all successfully cleared away.
It was a heart-stopping finish as Suarez's negated goal deflected in after the scoreboard showed all zero's, but the Falcons were able to send their coach -- and 13 seniors -- out as a state champ.
"It's all about the players," Chadwick said. "You put the players out there and they've got to do their job. I'm happy for it and I'll miss it tremendously."