Top-seeded Carrboro faced its first true test in the N.C. High School Athletic Association girls soccer 2A playoffs on Saturday evening when the Clinton Dark Horses came to town.
Carrboro coach Jared Drexler called the Jaguar’s fourth-round opponent “the best team we’ve seen in a long time.”
Trailing the fourth-seeded Dark Horses early in the second half of a weather-delayed match, the Jaguars responded to the challenged and pulled out a 5-2, overtime victory to advance to the 2A state semifinals.
Carrboro’s Alexa Wojnovich struck first for Carrboro with a laser strike that curled into the goal. After that goal, it looked like this game might be another run away win for the Jags, but the Dark Horses responded with a goal of their own from senior Alaina Capps to tie the game at 1-all.
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Clinton took the lead with 14:29 remaining in the second half. Other teams might have panicked, but Carrboro (19-1-2) had been in similar situations before and stayed calm.
“We kind of looked back to the state final when we were in that situation, and we got a W then,” Drexler said. “We looked back and said ‘We’ve been there before,’ so we used that experience to our advantage.”
The Jags quickly tied the game up with 12:02 left in the second half on a header from Gabby Adams. That goal gave the momentum back to Carrboro and was the goal that sent the game into overtime.
In those extra 20 minutes, the experience and dominance of Carrboro finally started to shine through. Wojnovich scored her second goal and Miah Araba knocked two goals into the net to put the game away. Araba recognized that the team started slow but finished strong.
“I thought we started off pretty rough, but as soon as we got to the second half, we turned it around, especially in overtime,” said Araba. “We knew that if we didn’t step it up, we were going to be out of this tournament, so we knew we had to take initiative and finish some goals.”
Clinton finished the season with a record of 21-6 and a deep run into the state playoffs to be proud of. On a wet field and against a tough opponent, the Dark Horses battled. Drexler had nothing but good things to say about Carrboro’s opponent.
“They came ready to play, played hard, and they are a really skilled team with some skilled players,” he said. “I don’t know if we were quite prepared for that or what, but in the second half and in overtime, we really turned it on.”
The come-from-behind win, Araba said, will help the team’s confidence as they prepare for Tuesday’s game against First Flight.
“I’m really proud of us,” said Araba. “We started off this season a little bit rough, and I’m glad we are finally getting into our groove.”