CHAPEL HILL — Any doubts that Chapel Hill should stay in the top 10 of the states girls soccer teams evaporated Thursday night with the Tigers 3-1 win over Carrboro, their third straight win since a surprising 1-0 loss to 4A East Chapel Hill the previous week.
Chapel Hill (13-2-2) ranked No. 5 by the News & Observer and No. 6 in the 3A coaches poll, broke open what had been a 1-1 game for most of the first half with second-half goals by Alexandra Kimball, who committed this week as a junior to North Carolina, and junior Megan Dell.
Each team scored within the first five minutes of the non-conference game, belying their shared reputation as excellent defensive teams.
We were a little off tonight in the first half, to tell the truth, Chapel Hill coach Ron Benson said. The first half was so bad, it was just painful. We played much better in the second half.
Chapel Hill shut out eight of its first 14 opponents, never giving up more than one goal and outscoring them 58-6. Chapel Hill was coming off a big 2-1 win over Cardinal Gibbons and an 8-0 shutout of Orange earlier in the week, leaving the Tigers in the drivers seat of the Carolina-6 Conference race.
Carrboro (13-2-1), ranked No. 1 in 2A coaches polls and No. 8 by the News & Observer, also had eight shutouts prior to Thursdays non-conference match. The Jaguars outscored their previous six opponents 32-2.
Chapel Hill scored 1:31 into Thursdays match, after Kimball fed a ball forward to Leah Whitney near the 6-yard box. Whitney right-footed it to the far post for a 1-0 lead.
Carrboro answered 2:05 later. Emma Houser tapped in the equalizer off a corner kick from Leah Simon into a scrum of players at the goal mouth, tying the game at the 36:24 mark.
I was a little disappointed in that first goal. We were just a little bit tentative, Carrboro coach Mark Kadlecik said. But I love this team. Give the players credit for coming back to get that tying goal. Chapel Hill just wore us down some in the second half.
Chapel Hill outshot Carrboro 10-5 in the first half and 23-11 for the game, with the Tigers getting most of the quality chances. The Tigers put all but two balls on frame, forcing Carrboro goalkeeper Benedicta Turner to come up with 15 saves, three of them almost point blank. Carrboro defenders camne up with four blocks.
Benni was very, very good tonight for a sophomore -- good for anyone, Kadlecik said.
Chapel Hills Alyee Whitesides saved five shots in goal.
Chapel Hill got past Turner twice when she came off line. The Tigers went ahead for good on a goal by Kimball, who took a long pass forward from Dell and broke unmarked into the box, sliding the ball past the onrushing Turner with 27:25 left to play.
Dell got her own goal with 17:54 to play by winning a 50-50 ball inside the penalty area and quickly chipping it over the keepers head as she approached.
We had kind of a rough start but were playing better now, Dell said. Were playing more possessive and moving the ball around the field better. Were putting the ball through to somebody instead of just kicking it.