Nothing could rattle Green Hope’s boys soccer team on Saturday night. It didn’t matter how many times the Falcons hit the post, or the crossbar, or pushed a shot just wide, or had the perfect ball roll by its intended target.
It didn’t matter so long as the scoring opportunities kept coming for them and not for Porter Ridge, their opponent in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A championship.
It was that mentality – always focusing on the bigger prize – that allowed the Falcons to dominate Saturday at N.C. State’s Dail Soccer Stadium to the tune of a 3-0 victory over previously undefeated Porter Ridge (26-1-2) to win the program’s third state title.
The Falcons (28-1) got goals on a Connor Munz volley in the 25th minute and a Jacob Sciandra tap-in from Anthony Boswell in the 32nd to take a 2-0 lead into halftime. William Dugger added the final tally in the 75th, heading in Camden Holbrook’s corner kick.
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“We’re not trying to score two goals off two opportunities,” coach David Corsbie said. “If we have to, (we’ll) score two, but for us, the more opportunities you get, the more goals we’re going to get.”
Green Hope spent most of this year with an uncanny sense of poise.
There was the on-the-field kind. Teams that tried to pressure the Falcons watched those plans quickly backfire. It was intended to force Green Hope into slipping up, but it just made the Falcons ping the ball around faster.
Then there was the off-the-field kind. The Falcons learned from the previous season and decided to use a practical one-game-at-a-time mentality. They all wanted a state championship, they just didn’t talk about it.
“The last year we didn’t have that maturity. We were arrogant without achieving anything,” said Corsbie, the second Green Hope coach to win it all in his first full season, joining Richard Huxford. Corsbie was an assistant last year until the playoffs, where he was an interim coach.
“This year, we knew what we were capable of, but we stayed humble about it for the most part,” he said.
Porter Ridge, making its first championship appearance, had only allowed 10 goals all year.
The first goal by Green Hope was somewhat deflating, but when the Pirates drew a PK seconds later, only to send that attempt well over the net, it had a doubling effect.
Green Hope controlled the run of play the rest of the night.
“We wanted to set the tone early, and I think that first goal took a lot of pressure off us and allowed us to play our style of play, score a few more and put the game away early,” said defensive midfielder Zach Curtis, who was named MVP. He is one of 18 seniors.
Green Hope is now 3-2 all-time in boys soccer state championships, falling short in 2001 and 2009 and winning in 2011, 2012 and 2016.
As Corsbie finished his media interviews, he turned to see another former Green Hope coach – 2011 ESPN national coach of the year Andrew Chadwick – there to congratulate him. Chadwick led the Falcons to two title games in 10 years as a head coach and a third in his first season on staff as an assistant, culminating with the 2011 championship.
“Thank you, I really appreciate that coming from the legend himself,” Corsbie said.
“Good luck man. Keep it going – 11 years yourself,” said Chadwick, who was wearing his old Green Hope soccer coat.
Corsbie replied: “If we keep doing this it’s going to be tough to say no.”