The Chapel Hill boys soccer team took a big step in securing a playoff berth Wednesday evening. The Tigers cruised past Cedar Ridge, 5-1, to create some separation over the second-place Red Wolves.
Chapel Hill (15-1, 8-0 Big 8) jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead just two minutes into the game when Justin Mecham got past the defense and scored on the short side to beat the Cedar Ridge keeper. Nine minutes later, Mecham assisted on Sam Linker’s goal as Mecham’s pass sailed over two defenders and dropped in front of the ready Linker, who’s kick found the back of the net.
“We have a lot of depth this year; we’re lucky this year with good senior leadership,” said Tigers coach Jason Curtis. “Justin’s a junior; sometimes we play him in the back, sometimes in the midfield, we can play him anywhere, but in the box, he’s a terror.”
Cedar Ridge (8-3-3, 6-2-1) had their season-high four-game win streak snapped. The Red Wolves had limited chances in the game, but finally got on the board with just over eight minutes remaining in the game. Trent Gill scored on a turnaround, surrounded by two defenders to cut the deficit to three.
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Two minutes after Gill’s goal, Chapel Hill answered right back when Alexis Rodriguez’s corner kick was perfectly placed in front of Matt Arnold, who, off a bounce, went top shelf over the goal keeper’s head to extend the lead back to four.
“Alexis, he leads our team in goals and assists per minute. He makes things happen. He works hard and puts his head down. He’s got skill, and we are so lucky to be so deep,” said Curtis.
THEY SAID IT
“It’s huge because the way they’re doing the seeding now, it’s just the first seed that gets the automatic (playoff berth). They don’t seed the 2s, it’s all based off total record. Getting that first seed is the objective; that’s a big deal to stay home and not have to take those long bus rides,” said Curtis
BY THE NUMBERS
14: Chapel Hill’s current winning streak
3: Games left for Cedar Ridge, who has to win out and get help to capture the conference title.