The No. 4 Chapel Hill Tigers were able to avenge their 2015 playoff loss to Northern Guilford on Wednesday night, holding off the No. 5 Nighthawks for a 3-2 win in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A girls soccer state playoffs.
After just under 10 minutes of even play, Northern Guilford (14-5-1) capitalized off an unsuccessful Chapel Hill (17-2-2) corner kick.
After winning possession, the Nighthawks moved the ball up the field to one of their attackers, who outran her defender and put the ball in the back of the net to give her side a 1-0 lead.
Another 10 minutes went by before either side had a legitimate scoring chance, and this time it was the Tigers’ turn to strike.
After winning a free kick, a Chapel Hill midfielder crossed the ball to the far post. The ball careened off the post, off the ground and into the air, where senior Morgan Brandewie headed it in to tie the game at 1-1.
The Tigers grabbed the lead in the 37th minute, as a shot from junior Meg Testen bounced off of the post and back out to freshman Holly Heizer, who put away the rebound to give Chapel Hill a one goal advantage.
“There are going to be a lot of greasy goals, and if you watch, our two goals were greasy goals in the box” Chapel Hill coach Jason Curtis said. “And that's what happens when you get in these games."
As the second half opened, Northern Guilford began to send more players forward in hopes of creating more chances. The strategy worked well.
In the 56th minute, Nighthawk senior Morgan Helms fired a shot from the left side of the box. The ball hit the glove of senior goalkeeper Karolina Honkakowski and bounced off of the post, but the keeper was able to grab the ball before another attacker got to the rebound.
“It was just, ‘Get to the ball,’ really,” Honkakowski said. “I didn’t know what was happening behind my back. I was just going as fast as I could.”
With less than 10 minutes to go, Chapel Hill won a free kick about 30 yards from goal. Junior midfielder Iida Hirvoven stepped up to take it, and hit a high, floating ball that got past the Northern Guilford goalkeeper and into the bottom left corner. The goal put the Tigers up 3-1 and out of reach for the Nighthawks.
“I just looked at the left corner and I just took the shot,” Hirvoven recalled.
With the win, Chapel Hill advances to the quarterfinals of the state tournament, where it will take on No. 9 Swansboro at home. The game will kick off Friday at 7 p.m.