This year’s Green Hope boys soccer team never outlined a state championship as a team goal, instead opting for the old-fashioned “one game at a time” approach. Well, the next game is the state championship.
The Falcons defeated East Chapel Hill 3-0 Tuesday night in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A East final and will play in its fourth state championship in the last eight years. Green Hope (27-1), which has yet to allow a postseason goal, will play Porter Ridge in Saturday’s state title, 8 p.m. at N.C. State.
“It’s pretty humbling,” senior defender Zach Curtis said. “After the Panther Creek loss earlier in the season, I think that set the tone for us and kinda pushed us to get us to where we are. Hopefully we can get it done on Saturday.
The Falcons led 1-0 at halftime and got goals from Connor Munz, Anthony Boswell and Jonah Murrane (two assists by Boswell, two to Connor Brookshire).
“We’re clicking right now,” Green Hope coach Davide Corsbie said.
East Chapel Hill (16-6-3), an 8-seed, got strong play from goalkeeper Lee Folger, but the Wildcats had too little possession and Green Hope fired in several shots on goal.
“They had to work really hard to get here,” ECH coach Austin Collins said. “If you had told us we were a top-four team at the start of the year, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But credit to these guys to not only work hard to get here but a lot of times when they were maybe outmatched they did a fantastic job of working hard.”
Collins said the game plan against Green Hope, whose talent level he likened to “a college team,” was to play the team’s normal style. But the Falcons were unflappable when pressed.
“We wanted to make it tough for them to score,” Collins said. “Credit to them. We tried to press and make them get rid of the ball but they still hung onto it. Very hard to defend against.”
It was a banner night for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district with all three schools in the state’s “final four.” While Chapel Hill won the 3A East final 2-1 against Terry Sanford to advance to Saturday’s game, Carrboro fell in the 2A East final at First Flight High (Kill Devil Hills, N.C.) by a 3-1 score.
Chapel Hill, East Chapel Hill and Carrboro all play one another twice a season in nonconference action.
“They give you a playoff atmosphere four times a year,” Collins said. “I think we all benefitted from playing each other. The area is a great soccer area. The kids all know each other, they play with each other. Hopefully it’s good for our area, and I’m happy for those coaches too.”
Collins said he was proud ECH could put forward its best season in 4A in its last season. East Chapel Hill, one of the smallest 4A schools in the state, will drop to 3A next year and join a league yet-to-be-named with Chapel Hill and others.
“To go out on 4A with our best finish ever in the 4A playoffs is great for us,” Collins said..