An injury forced Broughton to change its focus greatly in the middle of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs, yet the Captials still managed four rounds.
Their postseason run ended Saturday in a 2-0, fourth-round loss at Wilmington Laney High.
After a scoreless first half, No. 8 Laney (19-3-3) scored on a 25-yard strike by David Dailey in the 49th minute and a Tristan Nelson header off a corner from Tyler Keser in the 59th.
The No. 12 Capitals had not allowed a goal in the first three rounds of the playoffs. Without the team’s leading scorer, senior forward Elvis Wiredu, the defensive mentality was one Broughton had to quickly adopt. Wiredu was injured in the first round.
“He’s a big part of what we do,” Broughton coach Nick Wheeler said of his senior captain. “As you noticed, we won (the next two rounds) 1-0, 1-0. With him I would have expected it to be higher. Without him, we had to focus harder on clamping down in the back.”
Laney, which had already taken down two Wake County powers in Green Hope and Apex in the second and third rounds, respectively, was bigger than the Caps, yet just as fast on Saturday.
“I thought they were fast, physical and played extremely hard,” Wheeler said. “The goals they scored weren’t mistakes. I thought we still played strong defensively, but they had a lot coming at us today.”
Broughton (15-7-3), last year’s 4A runner-up, finished second in the Cap-8 Conference and has made its long playoff runs a recent habit. The Caps have won eight of their last 10 playoff games.
Broughton had 12 seniors in the 2015 season but will return many key pieces. Goalkeeper Clay Oxford was a sophomore and midfielder Lucas Beeson started as a freshman.
“I didn’t get here (the fourth round) in my first three years,” Wheeler said. “This is fun. We’ll do what we can to keep it up.”