Another chapter in Athens Drive’s storybook run through the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A girls soccer playoffs was written Friday night.
Playing on the road for a second consecutive game, the No. 24 seed Jaguars once again avoided elimination with a 1-0 win in the quarterfinals at No. 4 seed Leesville Road, which was previously unbeaten at home, thanks to a game-winning goal by senior forward Karlee Evancho in the 67th minute.
After finishing sixth in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference, Athens Drive (15-7-3) is now just one win away from playing for an NCHSAA title and is preparing to host either No. 26 seed Middle Creek or No. 30 seed Panther Creek, both SWAC foes, in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Leesville Road (21-2-2) had one final chance to equalize, but sophomore forward Jordin Mosley’s shot from 30 yards out with 16 seconds left was a bit too powerful.
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Despite playing out of its own end for much of the contest, Athens Drive prevented Leesville Road from ever taking the lead and eventually had its own breakthrough when senior forward Rachel Snyder’s cross found Evancho, who had just enough time to get her foot on the ball.
Evancho’s shot got past Leesville Road senior goalkeeper Shannon Hardy and trickled into the left side of the net, resulting in a massive celebration by the Jaguars and their traveling fans.
“I was so excited. I was speechless and I still am,” Evancho said.
The same can be said about Athens Drive’s postseason success. Coach Travis Seese’s team is currently enjoying a four-game winning streak, its longest of the season, and it’s coming at the right time.
“This team refuses to lose. We went to overtime in the first game, we went to overtime in the third round and this game was as tight as it could be,” Seese said. “Leesville is a great team and they probably had the better opportunities today, but we were able to get that one opportunity and finish it.”
Leesville Road coach Paul Dinkenor said his squad did everything it could to win, but couldn’t make the most of its opportunities.
“We have absolutely nothing to question ourselves about, “ Dinkenor said. “We kept pounding. We kept fighting.”