Deep runs in the state playoffs are the norm for Raleigh Charter’s girls soccer team and that trend continues as the Phoenix advanced to the NCHSAA 1A East final with a 1-0 win over Northern Central Athletic Conference rival Franklin Academy Saturday morning.
When the Franklin Academy keeper was unable to secure a loose ball, Raleigh Charter sophomore forward Charlotte Rhoades was able to score from short range 17 minutes into the second half for the only score of the game.
“She fumbled it and I honestly don’t remember what happened, it happened in just a moment,” Rhodes said of her score.
Raleigh Charter will host Whiteville, a 5-2 winner over Lejeune, Tuesday at WakeMed Soccer Complex with a berth in the state finals on the line. In the previous three years with Steven Grosso as coach, the Phoenix has reached the state semifinals, state championship game, and state quarterfinals.
Raleigh Charter is 18-0-1, including a 1-0 win and 3-3 tie with Franklin Academy in the regular season.
“They were the best team we’ve played this year,” Grosso said of the Patriots. “They have a stellar keeper and play a similar style as us, a possession game. We knew it would be our biggest challenge.”
Phoenix senior Grace Nipp, who had an assist, said facing Franklin Academy is big for her team, “There’s a lot of hype for this game.”
FA stayed on the offense most of the first half, but was unable to score.
“In the first half they put a lot of pressure on us and by my count outshot us 9-0,” Grosso said. “In the second half we were able to put the pressure on them like we wanted and play our game. The defense played fantastic and the whole team played a fantastic second half. (Keeper) Lily Koning and the defenders feed off each other and are a cohesive unit.”
First-year Patriots coach Kambyl Borries’ team finished 16-4-2.
“I was really hoping we could win this game for our seniors, but it was still a beautiful game” Borries said. “We were excited and ready to play and the first half was some of our best play all season. Now I’m hoping Raleigh Charter can do well the rest of the way.”