Cardinal Gibbons’ redemption tour continued Wednesday night, trouncing Fuquay-Varina 6-1 at home Wednesday night to earn a trip to the fourth round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A girls soccer playoffs. It advances to the fourth round for the first time since 2013.
Gibbons trailed at halftime, but a former player, Duke’s Morgan Reid, came out of the bleachers to inject a shot of enthusiasm into the Crusaders during the intermission.
“She gave us a pep talk and it got our heads into it,” Haley Garrett said. “We came out with more fight and did what we do best.”
The Bengals opened up a goal-filled night as freshman Kaitlyn Laux was able to get behind the Gibbons back line and chip a well-placed ball into the top left corner in the 31st minute.
Despite the Bengals loading up the back line, it took only five minutes into the second half for the Crusaders to equalize as a mishandled Meghan Kast shot from distance was corralled and guided into the back of the net by Taylor Currie.
“We said once we found the first goal we’ll find the second,” Gibbons coach Michele Miller said. “Sometimes you just have to find that first one.”
Two minutes later, Currie evaded made her way down the right sideline and crossed in a ball that was tapped up and volleyed into the top shelf by Garrett from just shy of the penalty spot.
The momentum continued as Gibbons as Kast headed in an Anna Rockett cross that ensued a corner earned by the shifty play of Emmy Duerr capping a three-goal run in just a four-minute span.
Montgomery Cooling jump-started an offensive attack with a long through pass to Currie that created a one-on-one chance, but Fuquay’s backup keeper Kristin Davis came off her line to make an astounding save that Maddie Reid slammed home on a one-timer volley.
Garrett earned a brace in the 64th minute by heading in a long set piece from Cooling delivered from the Crusaders’ logo at midfield.
The Crusaders put an exclamation mark on the evening as Audrey Smith finished off a Duerr assist with just over five minutes to go.
Defensive captain Caroline Goudy went down with a knee injury early on in the match and Maggie Pierce was away at a U.S. Women’s U17 National Team camp, but everyone else on the roster stepped up to fill those boots in a major way.
“That’s the story of our season. We don’t have one go-to, we spread it out and we challenge them all to step up and individually each one of them did,” Miller said. “The beauty of what we do is we’re team-oriented and we share the ball. Everyone has the green light.”
Fuquay’s season came to a disappointing in, but coach Nick Acosta was still able to pick out important positives.
“We aren’t the most skilled team but we worked our socks off. The scoreline doesn’t reflect the roller coaster of a game that it was.” Acosta said. “We’re a very young team … the young girls who got to play in this experience I think we’ll use it going forward and hopefully we’ll be back next year and years to come with the talent we have returning.”