CHAPEL HILL — In a match that took two days to complete, Cary grabbed the momentum and kept it to take a 2-1 first-round win over East Chapel Hill Thursday night in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs.
The Imps (11-6-2) and Wildcats (12-5-4) started the game Wednesday evening, but just over 26 minutes into the contest bad weather moved in and lightning forced the teams to stop play and finish Thursday night with host East Chapel Hill leading 1-0 on a penalty kick by Dylan Bedell in the 15th minute of the game.
“We feel like we came out very lethargic yesterday and then we had a PK called against us, so we were not really happy with how the game was going Wednesday,” Cary coach Laura Kerrigan said. “And I think right after they scored the goal yesterday, that’s when the momentum changed, because that’s when we started putting pressure on them. We almost scored right away, almost scored twice. So we felt the momentum changed the minute they scored the goal.
“And our real challenge was to take the momentum we had started and start today with that type of momentum,” Kerrigan said. “What worried us yesterday was that the game would get to halftime and we would still be down 1-0 and they call it. That’s what I was really afraid of happening. Nobody wants to lose a game on a penalty kick, so we were really frustrated with that.”
But the Imps got to play on, kept the momentum, stayed aggressive and controlled the ball for much of the second half.
The win puts Cary into the second round to face Millbrook.
The Imps scored just over a minute before halftime as Bria Dixon beat a couple of defenders and knocked in a shot from about 15 yards out to tie the score, 1-1.
Cary’s Phoebe Shurtleff scored the eventual game-winner early in the second half on a shot from the left after she took a pass from Kyra Kandel.
“That was an unbelievable ball Kyra played through their back line to Phoebe to finish,” Kerrigan said. “Defensively, the whole team played well but Anna Witte and Morgan Sullivan, they just had a tremendous effort in the back and center for us. Those two in the center, in particular, set the pace for us.”
While East Chapel Hill was a PAC Six Conference co-champion with Durham Jordan, Cary was the fourth-place team out of the Tri-Nine. But both coaches expected a tough game as Cary had defeated the Wildcats 2-0 earlier in the season.
“We are in a very tough conference and East Chapel Hill is a very good team. The game could have gone either way,” Kerrigan said. “We knew it was going to be a battle.”
“We played at Cary and lost, kind of a mess for us, didn’t play well at all in that game,” East Chapel Hill first-year coach Jared Dexler said. “When we saw we had Cary in the first round, we said, good we have something to prove. We think we can play with them and thought they might underestimate us. Then we got the goal and were pressing well, but the storm came in and ruined our plans there.”
Sill, Dexler could look back on a good season.
“We had fantastic girls on the team and we went through a ton of adversity, but nobody complained, everything was always positive,” he said.