Chip Bunn’s chances at winning a conference title for Green Hope were always dashed by wrestling powerhouse Cary.
But now Bunn has his title for the Falcons – just nine games after taking over as varsity boys soccer coach.
The 2-0 win at Panther Creek Wednesday night wrapped up the Falcons’ fourth straight conference title, clinching the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference No. 1 seed with one game left for Green Hope.
“Kudos to the guys. They’ve done it all. I just drive the bus and direct them in the right direction,” Bunn said. “I think because I’ve known them since they were young and have great relationship with them, the transition was smooth and they’ve responded well.”
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Senior defender Josh Cornell said one of the reasons the Falcons haven’t missed a beat since school administration removed Michael Hoy as coach – the Falcons are unbeaten in their last 12 – is the respect the team has for Bunn. They already knew him from as a teacher and junior varsity soccer coach.
“We trusted in Bunn and Bunn trusted in us,” Cornell said.
The Falcons (13-4-2, 9-2-2) were especially dominant in “the Highway 55 derby.”
Green Hope stretched the field with Rishi Sharma, Brad Trexler and Montana Crowder and kept Panther Creek (9-9, 6-8) in their own half of the field for much of the game.
“I can’t count how many of the 18 games we’ve had where we were 0-0 at half,” Panther Creek coach David Grant said.
Despite their lack of attack, the Catamounts almost took the first lead – hitting the post and the crossbar in the 46th and 47th minutes. But seconds later, Green Hope’s Erick Torres scores on a striking volley from the top right side of the box that found the left side netting.
Torres assisted to Cole Moye in the 62nd minute for the final score.
“We gave up that one and things fell apart from there and that’s unfortunately been our M.O. lately,” Grant said. “You look at our nine wins, we’ve scored first in eight of them – so what does that tell you?”
Panther Creek goalkeeper Ameen Nader kept Panther Creek in it for long stretches, not just by saves but also playing the sweeper-keeper style German star Manuel Neuer is known for.
“He comes out a lot and does a lot of off-the-wall stuff and I kind of look up to that unorthodox style of goalkeeping,” Nader said.
The next step for Nader and the Catamounts is to enter the playoffs – perhaps with a low seed much like last year – and hit the road.
“I’m just trying to go into playoffs with a good mind and hopefully that will be enough to get our team chemistry to work,” Nader said.