When Orange High decided to field its first girls’ soccer team in 1989, the tag line to attract players was “Tired of wearing your boyfriend’s letter jacket? Earn your own!”
Since then, Duke and Wake Forest have won ACC football championships. The New York Rangers captured the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1940. The Boston Red Sox have won two world championships. Clemson men’s basketball won an ACC regular season championship and won in Chapel H....well, let’s not get crazy.
But Orange never defeated Chapel Hill in girls soccer.
Until Wednesday night.
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It wasn’t just that Orange bested Chapel Hill 4-1 in penalty kicks – following a 1-1 draw in regulation – with freshman Kayla Wilson sending the game-winner into the lower right corner. The timing was special.
Chapel Hill is the defending 3A state champion. Orange was coming off a 7-13 season in 2014, where they lost to the Tigers 9-0 – twice.
Not to mention Orange had to play overtime and penalties with its backup goalkeeper after starting Ashley Badstein was injured with :23 remaining in regulation. Reserve keeper Arianna DeBona came off the bench cold to mind net in overtime, and nearly conceded a game-winner when a CHHS header bounced off the crossbar eight minutes into the first extra session.
“That was scary,” said DeBona with a relieved laugh.
Another milestone for the game was it was the first-ever that ended in penalty kicks in Big Eight play. Big Eight coaches had voted 6-2 during the off-season to implement penalties. The only two “nay” votes came from Orange and Chapel Hill.
Rachel Shinnick, who plays with 96 Elite Ladies in the Capital Area Soccer League, scored Orange’s regulation goal.
“It’s definitely exciting,” said Orange coach Palmer Bowman, who coached his first varsity game after serving as the JV coach in 2014. “It’s definitely a testament to the hard work this group has put in. It’s a showing of the potential and what they can do. Chapel Hill is a very good team and we were fortunate to come out on top. I wasn’t surprised (we won) because I have confidence in this group.”
Mia Spencer scored the only goal for Chapel Hill on a corner kick.
Chapel Hill Coach Jason Curtis, like coaches in all other spring sports, has struggled to schedule practices this offseason because of the wintry weather, but he refused to use that as an excuse.
“We had a really good practice yesterday,” said Curtis. “You just have to give Orange credit. Their backup came in and did a great job.
“We have people in new positions and even if they got playing time last year, there’s no one they can lean on now. They’re learning. They’re the ones that we need to do the heavy lifting, and they’re just getting used to that. We’ll get better.”