For the second straight game, Carrboro High School’s Eh Pa Kee scored the game-winning goal, and Jaguar defenders made it hold up for a win in the N.C. High School Athletics Association soccer playoffs
Kee, who missed half of Carrboro’s regular-season games after fracturing his right wrist, scored in the 35th minute on a tip-in off a rush from Hans Singh to spark Carrboro to a 1-0 victory over Franklinton in a hotly contested match on a chilly Saturday night.
No. 2 seed Carrboro improved to 22-2-1 heading into the NCHSAA Eastern 2A final on Tuesday at defending state champ First Flight, located in Kill Devil Hills.
No. 3 seed Franklinton ended its year at 21-3-1.
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“This is just a bitter way to end the season at 1-0,”Franklinton coach Isaac Welker said. “We had two near-misses in the first half. We had seven seniors, and they just had a great year.”
Carrboro senior goalie Richard Cato had five saves for Carrboro’s 17th shutout this year – the third straight in the playoffs. Franklinton goalkeeper Hector Cruz stopped seven.
“We played the best we could,” Franklinton’s senior defender Nelson Charron said. “I just wish we had settled the ball down a couple of times and gotten better shots. But this was the best year I ever had in soccer.”
The Jaguars advanced to North Carolina’s final four for the fourth straight year. They ended last season at First Flight, 3-1, in the 2013 Eastern final after having been state runner-up each of the previous two. Carrboro ended First Flight’s season two years ago.
Ear;ier this year, Carrboro had won a regular-season meeting with Franklinton, 3-0 on Aug. 25.
“That was our third game of the season,” Carrboro coach Jared Drexler said. “They’re a lot better team now. They got some new players, and we knew that.
“Our seniors will be in the (final four) for the fourth straight year. We all know what our goal is. We don’t talk about it every day. We’re just trying not to get ahead of ourselves.”
The 21-win finish was the best in Franklinton history.
“We did OK,” Welker said. “Soccer is a cruel game. Carrboro had the majority of the possession, and they had a quality side. Their defense and their goalkeeper are as strong as any team in the area.
The Jaguars outshot the visitors 6-3 in the first half.
The goal came after the senior Singh had gone through traffic to put a ball on frame, which Kee misdirected away from Cruz.
“It was amazing,” Keesaid after scoring his 14th goal of the year.
“Hans’ pass was really great. He put the ball in exactly the right place for me to score.”
Kee also had scored the first goal in a 2-0 win over Eastern Randolph in the NCHSAA’s fourth round.
“I give Eh Pa Kee all the credit,” added Singh, who registered his 13th assist. “When you have somebody that fast, all you have to do is play it through and he can run to it. He created the goal.”