Jaguar soccer coach Jared Drexler knew it wasn’t going to be his night when goalie Will Wagner injured his wrist during warmups.
Wagner spent much of Wednesday evening, his wrist wrapped in a hastily applied cast, sitting with Carrboro midfielder Jake Zinn, whose right foot likewise was in a cast, and defensive midfielder Ryan Laatz, who also had a wrist injury. They and Drexler could only watch as Carrboro and East Chapel Hill played to a 0-0 tie Wednesday at Jaguar Stadium.
“For us this was a bad tie. For them, maybe good,” East Chapel Hill coach Austin Collins said.
“In the first half we played really, really well, and I think we could have gotten a fairly significant lead if we had taken advantage of our chances, but their defense played awesome,” he said.
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The three latest injuries just made an already difficult situation a bit uglier for Carrboro (1-2-1), which graduated eight seniors off last year’s 22-3-1 Mid-State 2A champions. The Jaguars also lost its top three scoring juniors from 2014 – Than That, Ywa Moo and Eh Pa Kee – three Karen refugees from Myramar whose N.C. high school eligibility expired.
The resulting holes in Carrboro’s lineup have made scoring opportunities a scarce commodity in the early part of the soccer season. Including a solitary shot on-goal Wednesday, Carrboro has put just five shots on frame in its last three matches.
“Last year we had those Karen kids, and we were scoring four and five goals a game. We are missing them,” Drexler admitted. “We are looking for players to take up some of that offense. There is some potential here, and we have some guys who are still getting better.”
East Chapel Hill (1-1-1) looked much more aggressive in the first 40 minutes Wednesday – out-shooting Carrboro 11-1 and forcing Jaguar keeper Jonas Herfarth to make five saves, some of them bordering on spectacular.
“Their goalkeeper did a fantastic job,” Collins said. “He made some saves on balls that I thought we're going in, and he stopped our breakaways. Give credit to him.”
Drexler agreed that Herfarth deserved “a shout-out.”
“He pretty much saved the tie for us tonight. He made some absolutely miraculous saves,” Drexler said.
Carrboro made the second half a much more even affair, with East holding just a 5-4 edge on total shots, and a 3-2 margin in shots on-goal.
The Jaguars put pressure on East in the first minute after halftime, and in the 50th minute Carrboro’s Daniel Luai and Serdar Calikoglu worked a nice give-and-go that resulted in Jake Melville getting off a shot from near the penalty spot. East Chapel Hill’s Lee Folger made his nicest save of the night to deny the goal.
Folger’s best play came in the 69th minute, when he cut off a laser-like pass from Matas Vdanvicious across the six to Melville, who was in perfect position at the far post to head in the ball.
Barely 30 seconds later, East’s Quinn Albrecht banged a shot off the crossbar, and in the 71st minute Albrecht lofted a long pass over the Carrboro defense to Drew Enyedi, who banged in what appeared to be the game-winner until he was flagged for being offside.
East had three more chances in the final five minutes, with balls sent across the six behind the Carrboro defense, but each was way too high for a Wildcat to get a head on any of them.
“If we could have just been a little more disciplined instead of maybe panicking in the attacking half, if we could have been a little bit more composed, we could have maybe poked through and gotten a goal,” Collins said. “We were trying to chip it in the air and kick it way forward, when what we really needed to do was to keep it low and keep moving the ball forward.”
Next up: East Chapel Hill will host Northwood at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday (in a game postponed last Monday because of wet weather,) and then hosts Hillside at 6:30 Wednesday in the season’s first PAC-6 game for both teams. The Wildcats then travel to cross-town rival Chapel Hill for a 6:45 p.m. Sept. 11. The CHHS-East game will feature a Military Appreciation Night, commemorating 9/11.
Carrboro has a truncated schedule next week, taking off Labor day and then hosting Southern Lee at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 9. The Jaguars aren’t scheduled to play again after that until a rematch with East Chapel Hill at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at Wildcat Stadium.