Cardinal Gibbons earned itself a spot in the Wake County Cup final by defeating Broughton 3-0 in the group stage finale on Tuesday afternoon at Heritage.
The Crusaders (4-0), the defending 3A champs, and the Capitals (3-3), the 4A runner ups in 2014, were put on hold one week due to bad weather. The contest was worth the wait.
The Crusaders and Caps were deadlocked at intermission, but Cardinal Gibbons found the back of the net three times after the break.
Crusaders midfielder Jack Dononvan ended the 47-minute scoring drought, finding himself one-on-one with Broughton goalie Clay Oxford. With just Oxford and opportunity standing in front of him, Dononvan did what came naturally.
“Coach told us at halftime that we needed to take it more to the goal,” Dononvan said. “So, when the ball came into me I went straight to goal. I saw I had a chance, and I took it.”
That goal got Gibbons going.
Conner Shaw and Nelson Zimmerman tacked on additional goals to ice the victory for the Crusaders.
“One you get that first one,” Healy said, “Everyone wants to go out and get that next one.”
Gibbons will host Apex on Sept. 19 for the Wake County Cup title. Broughton, which finished second in the group by splitting its games, will play in one of the preceding games at the same venue.
Three who mattered
Jack Dononvan, Cardinal Gibbons: The junior got the first goal of the evening, but he was threatening all night, putting pressure on the Caps’ defense. His first goal set the tone for the second half.
“It felt great,” Dononvan said. “It felt good to get that energizer for your team. It was certainly a morality boost for us. It got us going again and we got on our game after that.”
Patrick Monahan/Sam Diehl, Cardinal Gibbons: Healy used two goalkeepers in the shutout of Broughton, going with Monahan to start the game, and Diehl after halftime.
“I think they both came up with key saves at key moments,” Healy said. “Because of that our offense was able to do what we did.”
They said it
“We were very focused on Broughton,” Healy said. “You couldn’t tell that in the first half, but in the second half they got it.”
In the second half, Cardinal Gibbons played better defense. Broughton got less shots on goal after the break, and that led to some opportunities on offense for the Crusaders.
“We got everyone on the same page, defensively,” Healy said. “We put a little bit more pressure, and we finished our chances.”
Cardinal Gibbons takes on Cedar Ridge next, but the big test come next Thursday and Friday when the Crusaders take an overnight trip to the Queen City. Cardinal Gibbons will play one game on Thursday, stay the night in Charlotte, then play another game on Friday. Cardinal Gibbons’ opponents will be Garinger and Marvin Ridge.
Out of bounds
Because of the temperatures in the high 90s, the two teams had to take mandatory water breaks at the 20-minute mark of each half.
By the numbers
47: The total amount of minutes that elapsed before the first goal of the evening.
2: The number of goalies Cardinal Gibbons used to shutout Broughton.
2: The number of assists by Jacob Pleasants of Cardinal Gibbons.