The scoreboard may have said Cary 1, Green Hope 1 after 100 minutes of boys soccer Wednesday night, but there was much more going on with the two teams – both on and off the field.
The gritty Imps (4-8-3, 3-4-2) got a fortunate goal early in the road game and played stellar defense throughout to continue their run of close matches with top-flight opponents.
The comeback-minded Falcons (7-4-1, 3-2-1) played like they were behind late in regulation and in overtime, exhibiting fortitude that somewhat belies what’s happened to their team in the last week.
Michael Hoy was suspended as Green Hope’s coach a week ago, with junior varsity coach Chip Bunn taking over.
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“At first, it was shocking, to be honest,” Green Hope junior Zach Doernberg said. “But then once Bunn came in, he’s doing a great job. He’s got two great assistant coaches. Now we’re going to be going for that state championship.”
Bunn said he’s tried to bring a positive outlook to this team, and that was evident against Cary. The Imps scored first when a 25-yard, curling free kick from Quinn Dunphy slipped through the hands of Falcons keeper Jacob Kendall in the third minute.
But Green Hope players shook that off and became the aggressors, nearly getting a goal less than a minute later. Camden Holbrook tied the game in the 24th minute, heading in a long pass from Matt Wisniewski.
The Falcons had more chances, including a Doernberg shot with 10 seconds left in regulation. Then, late in the second overtime, Wisniewski whistled a shot off the post.
“We got the opportunities, but we just didn’t execute as we should,” said Green Hope’s Marcus Maier, an exchange student from Denmark. “I liked the attitude today on the field from all players.
“I can feel a change of the attitude, (a) more positive feeling. It’s like a fresh kick for the entire team.”
Cary withstood the pressure, with keeper Johannes Dietrich making key saves and fullback Jack Long directing a terrific defensive effort.
“We stayed after it,” said Dunphy, son of coach Mike Dunphy. “We didn’t give up, which I was really proud of. That’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to stick with it because you know they’re coming. You’ve got to stay disciplined and keep after it.”
That has been the Imps’ game this season. Lacking the overall talent as some other SWAC teams, Cary has had to play as a unit, fighting to keep games close. The Imps have done well, as witnessed by close losses to Apex, Holly Springs, New Hanover and Northern Durham – all among the state’s best.
“A lot of that starts with defending,” Mike Dunphy said. “They say offense wins games but defense wins championships. What I’ve learned over the years is you’ve got to start there. They’re starting to believe that, OK, if we defend well and we hold, we can do enough offensive things to get scoring chances or get goals to hold on to a lead or stay in the game.
“It’s been a while since we’ve taken points in both games with Green Hope. I know they’re down a little bit, but it doesn’t matter. It’s our crosstown rival, and we’ve got a win and a tie against them, so we’ll take that.”