The magical run of the Middle Creek girls soccer team continued on Wednesday night as the No. 26 seed took out No. 2 Cardinal Gibbons with a 1-0, double-overtime victory in the third round of the N.C High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs.
After her potential game-winning shot with 17 seconds left in overtime was pushed away by a leaping punch by Crusaders keeper Nicole Maiorano, it didn’t take Middle Creek midfielder Kylie McElroy long to get a finisher in OT.
On the first shot of the extra session, McElroy took a feed from Ally Elliott settled and fired a shot that beat Maiorano high in the right corner.
“I saw that a defender was blocking out the goalie’s view,” McElroy said. “So I used that and went near post. The goalie’s vision was blocked.”
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The win improved Middle Creek’s record to 11-5-6, but more impressively, it made them 10-2-2 on the road.
“We don’t mind being on the road at all,” Middle Creek head coach Guy Coleman said. “It’s our pleasure.”
Said McElroy: “I don’t know what it is. I guess we all like the feeling of coming into someone else’s house and beating them.”
Middle Creek won’t be on the road in the fourth round, however, as they will host fellow Southwest Wake Athletic Conference squad Panther Creek (12-9-3). The No. 30 Catamounts knocked off No. 20 Sanderson 1-0. The Mustangs won 1-0 on the road and the teams tied 1-1 at Middle Creek during the regular season.
After the Mustangs took the lead, the Crusaders went all-out sending nine, 10 attackers at the Middle Creek defense.
Cardinal Gibbons created two corner kicks late in the first 10-minute overtime, but both were cleared away and it got no shots in the session.
In the second extra period, Gibbons freshman forward Maggie Pierce got a first crack at the goal, but her shot on a direct kick 32 yards out hit the wall.
In the 100th minute, Crusaders’ senior midfielder Abbey Burns got a shot on goal that was chest-saved by Lauer. Burns would get another shot and Lauren grabbed it just as the final buzzer sounded.
“The rush you get when you win the game, and to come up with a clean save and have the ball in my hands at the end; there is not better feeling,” Lauer said.
The loss ended Cardinal Gibbons’ season at 21-2 and in the third round of the NCHSAA playoffs for the third straight season. Despite that, Crusaders coach Michele Miller said her team had nothing to be ashamed of playing in the 4A classification for the first time after moving up from 3A.
“Being 4A, it’s all new to us,” she said. “We came in here with no expectations from Middle Creek, except we knew they would be very good. We lost to a quality team, on a quality goal.
“I’m proud of the whole season. It’s a whole body of work, not just one game. We put a lot into having a really good season.”