SILER CITY — Carrboro’s soccer team gets another shot Saturday at the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2A championship that eluded it last year.
The Jaguars (18-6-3) earned the trip to play Cuthbertson on Saturday at 8 p.m. at N.C. State by edging Jordan-Matthews 2-1 on Wednesday night in the Eastern Regional championship match. Cuthbertson is the school Carrboro’s girls beat for the state championship last spring.
Coach Mark Kadlecik’s Carrboro team lost to Salisbury 3-2 in overtime in the championship last year. That was a strong senior team, and the Jaguars had to fill a lot of holes and show continued improvement to have a shot at returning to the championship match. Even Kadlecik wasn’t sure they could do it.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect to be here,” Kadlecik said. “And then we start the season something like 5-6-2. So for us to get to the 2A finals is a real testament to our guys. They really work hard, they’re a pleasure to coach and I’m just honored to be a part of this program and be in the state finals again.”
Jordan-Matthews (19-5-1), which had a state championship in 2004 as part of its formidable soccer history, started out as the offensive aggressor. But the Jags struck first, 10 minutes into the game, when Mike McPeak scored from 20 yards straight out.
Jordan-Matthews tied the score 14 minutes later when Darwin Ramirez gathered in a loose ball about 15 yards out and made the shot.
The game-winning goal occurred during the 50th minute on a nice play as Luke Hickey fed the ball from the left to Nico Kranchenfels, who was breaking toward the goal. Kranchenfels took the pass and converted. Carrboro’s defense then took over, with goalkeeper Murat Calikoglu stepping up to make a couple of crucial saves. The Jaguars also had to play the final minutes without senior leader Thar Thwai, who was injured.
“This was a tough game, tough environment, and they had a great crowd,” Kadlecik said. “And playing without Thar hurt. We had to make some adjustments. Murat did show his class today, and it was a total team effort.”
Jets coach Paul Cuadros was also playing with a young team.
“We only have a couple of seniors on this team, and only one starts,” Cuadros said. “We started out the game strong on the attack and then had an error on defense on that first goal. And that’s because this is a very young squad. This season we’ve had to figure out roles, where people would play, finding out where they fit in. It’s a talented bunch. There are some kids on this team with tremendous amounts of technical skill with the ball. Our kids play in the streets and playgrounds, and that’s the strength of our team, they get very creative.”