Duncan Davis knew Chapel Hill’s soccer game Friday night would be intense, but he also knew something more than intensity would be needed to win.
“It was all about focus,” Davis said, standing near midfield at rapidly emptying Wildcat Stadium. “And our team had that composure at the end of the game that the other team didn’t have.”
Davis scored two goals Friday, including what proved to be the game-winner with 3:36 left in regulation, to spark Chapel Hill to a 3-2 victory at East Chapel Hill.
The match featured 33 infractions spread about equally between the two rivals, including six yellow cards. East drew the worst deal of the cards, with two of the four going to Wildcats, who had to play the final 2:48 a man down.
Two goals in the last 17:40 of play by East Chapel Hill sophomore Quin Albrecht turned what could have been a rout into a typical, madcap CHHS-East game.
The first half’s only goal came in the 14th minute, when Davis finished off a long chip from John Walden into the box.
After limiting East to four desultory shots in the first half, none of them on goal, Chapel Hill (5-2-1) seemed in total control after it went up 2-0 in the 44th minute on a shot by Mateo Ortez off Walden’s second assist of the night.
Albrecht answered for East Chapel Hill (4-3-0) in the 50th minute on a controversial goal. Albrecht started the play with a corner kick that sailed into the 6-yard-box, where Chapel Hill goalkeeper Lu Lue collided violently with an onrushing East player before he could save the ball. The ball careened to the edge of the box, from where Albrecht one-timed it into the open net.
The Tigers again seemed safe after Davis bent in a free kick from just outside the side edge of the penalty area, scoring from about 25 yards out for a 3-1 Chapel Hill lead.
Albrecht answered again just 24 seconds later, scoring from the edge of the 6-yard box on a ball that rebounded off a clump of players at the goal mouth, making it 3-2 with 3:12 left to play.
“They put a couple in, but we kept fighting, fighting until that last second went off the clock,” Davis said.
East had a potential game-tying goal off a free kick by Albrecht called back in the 64th minute, and had another waved off with just 95 seconds left in the contest, when an Albrecht free kick was headed in by Anthony Shopshire – both would-be goals nullified by offsides.
The game ended with the East Chapel Hill fans booing.
“The last 10-15 minutes of the game was about the only time other than the end of the first half that we played with the enthusiasm necessary to win,” East Chapel Hill coach Austin Collins said.