CARY — Raleigh Charter got past a hurdle that has stalled the girls soccer team in recent years, topping Southwest Onslow 4-3 in the NCHSAA 1A east regional final Friday to advance to the state title game.
For the past three years, Southwest Onslow has had Raleigh Charters number. The Phoenix had been knocked out of the playoffs by Onslow each year, and twice in the state semifinals.
This win is huge, said Raleigh Charter forward Ilana Green, a four-year varsity player for the Phoenix who has committed to play at The Citadel next year. I think our team definitely has all of the players and all of the factors that we need to win a state championship this year.
Southwest Onslow, the defending state champion, got on the board first with a goal in the 10th minute.
The Phoenix played few contests from behind this year and had coasted through the first three rounds of the state tournament, scoring 22 goals while shutting out opponents.
Still, coach Steve Grosso was confident his team could handle the pressure.
I really never panicked because in that second Franklin Academy game, I saw the ability to come from behind, especially when we get down 1-0 early, Grosso said of Raleigh Charters late-season 2-1 conference win.
They showed me in that game what kind of resilience the entire team has to play from behind, so I never lost faith.
Green scored the Phoenixs first goal in the 15th minute to tie it, and junior midfielder Alexa Dreyer put Raleigh Charter ahead in the 17th.
Southwest Onslow scored again two minutes later and the teams went into the half tied at 2.
We felt good coming into the second half tied, Southwest Onslow coach John Sweeney said.
Raleigh Charter dominated much of the second half.
Green scored her second goal of the game just minutes into the second half and junior midfielder Elizabeth Nichols pushed the Phoenix further ahead in the 60th minute.
Onslow made it interesting near the end, shoeing in a rebound with two minutes remaining.
Raleigh Charter (20-1) will face the winner of the West Regional finals, which will be played Saturday between Hendersonville (19-3-2) and Huntersvilles Lake Norman Charter (17-3-3).