It seems to take only one goal for Carrboro to get a victory.
And Kiara Hallows – who has missed most of the season with an injury – got it from 25 yards out on a Leah Simon assist, lifting the Jaguars to a 1-0 victory over Dixon in the Eastern 2A girls’ soccer title game Tuesday night.
It was the third 1-0 playoff win for the Jaguars this season. They beat Croatan in overtime in the second round and then topped Trinity by the same score Saturday.
Carrboro (20-0-1) advanced to Saturday’s state final at N.C. State against either Forbush or Franklin. No. 3 seed Dixon ended its season at 20-3.
The top-seeded Jaguars (20-0-1), who won the 2012 title, had been knocked out in the fourth round each of the previous two seasons.
“I think we’ve been tested,” second-year Carrboro coach Jared Drexler said. “We’re confident and able to handle it. We knew their goalie had good hands and was athletic.
“Kiara took the chance and it went in, and I’ll take it. Leah kind of does the hard work behind the scenes for us. Her hard work does not get overlooked by our team.”
The Jaguars’ only goal allowed this season was in the 1-1 road tie with 3A Chapel Hill on March 10. They won one regular-season 1-0 game, over East Chapel Hill on April 13. Carrboro has had 10 games stopped by the 9-0 mercy rule.
“Their offense is what makes them so tough defensively,” Dixon coach Josh King said. “They use the wide field. They space you out and they connect on their passes, and if you don’t have the ball very much it’s hard to score.
“You have to just step back and say ‘Good job, Carrboro.’ They played very well. We stepped it up some in the second half and got a few chances, but they don’t let you have many. They’re a stingy group.”
Hallows put the Jaguars ahead during the 26th minute, firing a blast on Simon’s cross from near the left sideline.
It was the sophomore’s ninth goal of the season and Simon’s eighth assist.
“I wanted to score so bad because I’ve missed so much of the season,” said Hallows, who was in her third game back after missing seven weeks following wrist surgery. “I knew when I got the ball I had time to turn and had an open goal.
“It means a lot to get to my first state championship game, and we want to do everything we can to win it.”
Simon, who played in the state title victory as a freshman, said she likes racking up assists as much as she likes scoring goals.
“I don’t like to hold onto the ball a lot,” said Simon, who has 17 goals on the season. “I saw Kiara open in the middle and fortunately I found her and she was able to hold onto the ball.
“I’m not taking anything for granted here. I know I’m extremely blessed to get a second chance to win a state championship.”
Carrboro’s Benedikte Turner had five saves to 10 for Dixon’s Danielle Acree. It was Turner’s seventh shutout of the season.
“This might have been the hardest game we’ve had,” Turner said. “The defense worked really hard. I’m not used to games this close. I was kind of nervous for this one, but it worked out really well.”
Seniors Simon, Benedikte Turner, Kenza Araba and Olivia Turschak were all members of the state title team as freshmen.
“It’s great we have the seniors who have ‘been there’ and have a little bit of experience,” Drexler said. “Even if it’s three years ago and you don’t remember too much, anything’s better than nothing. So the seniors can help the younger players with the whole scene and the field and the situation and what to do about your nerves.”