WENDELL — Carrboro took advantage of its man advantages Saturday night to end Corinth Holders’ run in the 2A boys soccer playoffs with a 2-1 victory when the Pirates were forced to finish the match four men down.
Referees awarded Corinth Holders four red cards in the 2A state quarterfinal match.
The Jaguars rallied from a 1-0 deficit with two goals from senior captain Michael McPeak, both of which came against a shorthanded Corinth Holders team.
“Carrboro deserved to win based on the situations they were given, but we beat ourselves tonight,” Pirates head coach Brent Walston said. “The team that has more players on the field is supposed to win.”
But in the first half, Corinth Holders seemed destined to advance.
In the ninth minute, the Pirates were given a free kick on the right side of the field and launched it into the box. The ball fell to Nick Burton, who controlled it and passed to Melecio Rubio-Villagran on the right. He cut back in toward the goal and slotted the ball into the bottom-left corner.
From then on the Jaguars were on the offensive, trying to find an equalizer. They seemed visibly frustrated with their inability to put the ball at the feet of their forwards in front of the goal, and their ventures into the attacking third took on a nervous, frantic demeanor.
But a couple of fouls from the Pirates gave the Jaguars a number of set play opportunities near the goal. On a free kick from right outside the box on the left side, the ball found junior Luke Hickey on a bounce at the top of the box. His half-volley was caught by leaping keeper Chason Karst, who knocked the ball down near the crossbar and fell on it.
Up 1-0, the Pirates didn’t shy away from contact in the second half either. This allowed them to win loose balls when Carrboro players would slow up to avoid collision. But their aggressiveness would be their undoing.
“(The referee) said to both teams at the beginning of the game that if the game gets out of hand and we start talking back then cards would be dealt,” McPeak said. “Both teams were talking back, but at halftime I told my boys we had to stop complaining to the refs, and we did.”
Pirate Alex Dimmock received his second yellow card in the 59th minute for his reaction to being whistled for a foul on the left side of the Corinth Holders box. The kick, taken by Carrboro’s Thar Twai, curled to the left post where the towering McPeak was waiting to drive it into the bottom corner with his head.
Ten minutes later, the same pair — Twai and McPeak — connected again. Twai dribbled down the left side and hit McPeak at the top of the box. McPeak drove the ball on the ground into the bottom right corner of the goal to give the Jaguars a 2-1 lead.
As time ran down, the Pirates became frustrated with the officiating. Before all was said and done, another three red cards had been doled out to Corinth Holders players leaving them four players down. The Pirates that remained on the field could do little but sit back and defend.
“You’ve got to make adjustments when you’re down a man — or two, or three,” Pirates head coach Brent Walston said. “It’s unfortunate that we had to make those adjustments.”
Carrboro (17-6-3) moved on to play Siler City Jordan-Mathews (19-4-1) in the state semifinal round.
The Pirates finished the season with a school-record 19 wins, going 19-4. They were the first Johnston County team to reach the state quarterfinals since Smithfield-Selma in 2004.