As the Raleigh Charter girls soccer players returned from an on-field celebration to the team bench, a chant arose from the Phoenix student section behind them:
“Karly! Karly! She scores when she wants to.”
Well, not quite when she wants to, but the team’s second-leading scorer did seem to will both goals in Raleigh Charter’s 2-1 win over Whiteville in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A East Region final Tuesday at WakeMed Soccer Park’s Field No. 2.
The top-seeded Phoenix (19-0-1), ranked No. 3 among area schools, advanced to Saturday’s state final, while No. 2 seed Whiteville finished 22-2-1.
The first goal Karly Dreyer “willed” was in the fifth minute of the second half for a 1-0 lead. She gathered an errant pass and shot from 35 yards out on top. The Whiteville goalie took a step in, but the ball kept rising and she couldn’t recover when the ball dipped into the back of the net.
“Whiteville is not a team to give us a lot of space, so once I had that space, I took the shot,” Dreyer said. “Fortunately, it did go over the goalie. I was very lucky.”
Whiteville tied the match in the 73rd minute when Mia Shelley scored off two rapid-fire deflections. The first was off a save by Raleigh Charter goalie Lily Koning and the second off a defender.
Five minutes into the first overtime, Dreyer put her will to work again. She was 10 yards to the right, and her shot hit the crossbar and bounded down. After a moment, the referee ruled it was good for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
“The second, definitely,” Dreyer said when asked which she felt more fortunate to score. “It’s not often a shot bounces off the crossbar for a goal. It was very lucky.”
Well, maybe luck isn’t the right word.
“She had the right angle and created a scoring opportunity,” Raleigh Charter coach Steven Grosso said.
The Phoenix defense made the lead stand up this time, including controlling the ball on their offensive end of the field for most of the final three minutes of play.
“I’m really proud of the way my defense played,” he said. “That goes beyond the back four. That includes the midfielders and strikers. All 11 defended. That’s a challenging team with high goal scorers and seniority.”