North Carolina’s state high school soccer playoffs can be cruel to hopes and dreams.
That’s something East Chapel Hill learned the hard way last week.
The Wildcats, who came a coin flip away from taking the top overall seed from the PAC-6 Conference last week, fell to D.H. Conley 1-0 in the first round of the NCHSAA East 4A state playoffs Wednesday night at soggy Wildcat Stadium.
Vikings striker Dan Jacobo scored the game’s only goal in the 68th minute as he took an errant clear attempt and lobbed it past East goalkeeper Nic Mallett.
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The Wildcats, who end the season 12-6-1, only mustered two shots on net.
Conley’s midfielders pushed the action for much of the second half, out-shooting the Wildcats 8-3. Mallett made five second-half saves for the Wildcats.
Conley (14-3-1) finished second in the Eastern Carolina Conference, with their only league losses coming against conference champion New Bern.
“They just worked way harder than we did,” said East coach Austin Collins. “They were winning the midfield battle and did a great job of pressing high defensively. We didn’t test the keeper. It was very disappointing.”
If Conley’s midfield pressure hurt East, the elements weren’t any help either. A torrential downpour 30 minutes before gametime left the field damp the entire night.
“I think it did affect us, but it shouldn’t have,” said Collins. “These guys are not young. They’re experienced, but I think they did terrible coping with it.”
East’s best chance in the second half came when midfielder Quinn Albrecht fielded a free kick from Michael Krantz in the box. Albrecht was able to get a foot on the ball amid pressure inside the six-yard box, but the ball dribbled wide of the net.
Chapel Hill wins two
Chapel Hill, which blew past its first two opponents in the NCHSAA East 3A soccer playoffs, was waiting on results from Saturday night’s games to find out who the Tigers would face in Wednesday’s third round.
Chapel Hill got two scores from Duncan Davis as it shut out 27th-seeded Rocky Mount by a 7-0 score Tuesday night. John Walden, Blake Johnson, Oliver Reuland and Sean Pierrard each added a second half goal. The Gryphons also gave up an own-goal for Chapel Hill.
Thursday. Mateo Ortez and Kyle Cocowitch each scored in the first half and Walden tacked on two scores in the second half as Chapel Hill eliminated No. 11 Wilson Fike (17-5-0) with a 4-0 decision.
Chapel Hill coach Jason Curtis said the Tigers were benefiting from playing a tough schedule against playoff teams like Carrboro, East Chapel Hill and Cardinal Gibbons.
“We have gotten good experience from winning tough games,” Curtis said. “We are finishing our chances. We are possessing the ball and playing it to feet very well. Our seniors are stepping up.”
Seeded No. 6 in the East 3A, Chapel Hill (19-4-4) will either play at No. 3 seeded Northern Guilford (18-1-2) or host No. 19 Northern Nash (12-8-0) in a third-round match. Those two opponents played Saturday, too late for results to be included in Sunday’s CHN.
Carrboro rolls into second round
No. 2-seeded Carrboro had little trouble advancing out of the NCHSAA East 2A first round, blowing out 31st seed North Brunswick 6-1 Wednesday night at home.
The Jaguars (19-2-1) carried a 14-game winning streak into a second-round home game with North Lenoir (12-11-1) in match played too late for today's edition of the Chapel Hill News.