Chapel Hill’s fast play defeats Cardinal Gibbons boys’ soccer

mblake@newsobserver.comOctober 1, 2013 

— Chapel Hill’s boys’ soccer attacks even in the little details.

It hurries its throw-ins. It takes free kicks quickly. It has enough speed to get wide and cross and quickness to link up on an array of runs made the attacking third..

“There’s no sense in letting defenders set up. The ball moves faster than the defenders, so that’s the way you want to work,” coach Ron Benson said.

The Tigers, ranked second in the News & Observer area rankings, remained perfect in the Big Eight 3A Conference by defeating 10th-ranked Cardinal Gibbons 2-1 on Monday night.

A 78th-minute goal from Nate Hebert capped Chapel Hill’s first win against the Crusaders since the 2009 playoffs, breaking out of a 0-5-2 head-to-head rut.

Hebert could hardly contain himself – or his shirt – after putting away the ball played to him from John Walden.

“John played a pristine through ball to me. I kind of stumbled over it a little bit, but I got my composure back and I outside footed it into the bottom corner. And then the celebration man, that was reactionary – that’s not even like me,” Hebert said. “I just didn’t even think. (The shirt) just came right off.”

The biggest asset to the way the Tigers play isn’t necessarily the speed, but that it comes as no sacrifice to the defense. While other teams who push towards goal do so while opening themselves up for counterattacks, Chapel Hill doesn’t.

“It’s the chemistry in the front,” Hebert said. “We’ve all been playing for the same club or a few local club teams since we were 10. We trust our back to defend when we need to so we can push up.”

Drew Rabil put Gibbons on the board first in the fourth minute.

A Crusaders teammate had tried to play a through ball to Rabil, but a Chapel Hill player blocked the pass and the ricochet fell to a different Gibbons player. With the defense out of position, Rabil was able to catch up to the next ball and bury into the net.

Gibbons generated most of the chances in the first half until Chapel Hill saved a indirect free kick from inside the box in the 26th minute. A Tigers player had been called for a high kick in the penalty area, resulting in the rare call.

Chapel Hill (13-1-1, 7-0) found new life and forced Gibbons (8-5-1, 6-1) to sweat four close calls before entering halftime with the Crusaders still up 1-0.

Chandler Weedon headed in Ben Fisher’s corner kick in the 56th to tie it up. Just as Chapel Hill goalkeeper Justus Heizer had done in the first half, Gibbons keeper Luke Deacon made outstretched saves to keep the game from getting out of hand.

Then with time running out, Walden found Hebert for the game-winner.

Gibbons has won two of the last three 3A state titles and reached all three of the East regional finals. That level of success is the next thing Chapel Hill will try to attack.

“We all believed coming into this season that this was the year to (win a state title). This is the last year for all the seniors,” Hebert said.

Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps

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