Northern’s surprising run in the N.C. High School Athletics Association playoffs came to end last week at East Chapel Hill.
East Chapel Hill used a stifling defense to turn back Northern 3-1 Tuesday in the NCHSAA soccer playoffs’ third round.
Lauren Douglass put the Wildcats on the scoreboard four minutes into the match with a kick just inside the left goal. Brynn Donnelly made it 2-0 with a shot up the middle on a fast break at the 17:12 mark of the first period. Eva Killenberg finished out the scoring in the period with a header on an assist from Claudia Sollee.
Down 3-0 at the half, the Ladies answered with 10:29 left in the match when PAC-6 player of the year Nicole Crutchfield tallied Northern’s only goal. It was too little too late for Northern (10-9-2) as the Ladies ran out of gas against East Chapel Hill (14-4-0), the NCHSAA East’s No. 13 seeded team.
“She (Crutchfield) is a great player and our defense did a great job on her. I’m really pleased,” East Chapel Hill coach Austin Collins said. “The defense really focused not letting them settle into a routine.”
The match was one step too far for a Northern team that finished third in the PAC-6 this year behind Jordan and East Chapel Hill. Belying their No. 21 seed in the NCHSAA tournament, the Ladies upset No. 12 Cape Fear (17-7-0) by a 5-1 score in a first-round road game, then dispatched an under-rated (10-9-3) Wilmington Ashley team, 2-0.
Jordan can’t top Apex
Apex advanced to its third boys’ lacrosse state championship game in five years after a 10-2 defeat of Jordan last week in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A East final.
Apex (19-2) emerged as the 4A East champion, but it was hard to call any team the favorite at the postseason’s start. Last season, the Cougars played an underdog role in knocking off Cardinal Gibbons in the third round.
Giant-killing Jordan entered Tuesday having eliminated East Chapel Hill – a team it had lost twice to during conference play – and Middle Creek – which was a co-conference champion with Apex.
Jordan started the season 1-4 and struggled to get used to life without star midfielder Thomas Schmidt, who tore his ACL during the preseason. But the Falcons (12-7) won 11 of 14 from that point on.
“They did a terrific job of turning everything around; we just ran out of gas in this one,” coach Jamie Sliwa said. “Our offense is based off of dodging and moving the ball backside and when we couldn’t do that, it caused us some issues. I’ve got to give it to (Apex coach John) Hayden, he had a heck of a defensive plan going into it.”