Published: Mar 31, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Apr 01, 2012 11:21 AM
RALEIGH - Chapel Hills girls soccer team may have trouble trying to sneak up on for the rest of this season.
If it werent enough to defeat 4A Jordan earlier the season, when the Falcons were ranked No. 13 in the states classification for the biggest schools, Chapel Hill went to Raleigh last week and upset No. 7 Cardinal Gibbons to stay undefeated in conference play.
Chapel Hills other wins against 4A teams include Fayetteville Terry Sanford and Riverside. The Tigers also have defeated two top-10 teams from the states private-school 3A class: Raleigh Ravenscroft and Durham Academy.
"Were feeling pretty good right now," veteran CHHS coach Ron Benson said last week. "Were getting tight play at every position.
"I think opponents have been a kittle surprised at how well organized we are. They may have more players or be faster, but weve made up for it with better skills and better organization."
CHHS seemed to catch Cardinal Gibbons off-guard when they met on the Crusaders artificial turf in Raleigh.
Within the first 5 minutes, Megan Dell fed ball into the middle of the box, where Alex Kimball ran onto it full speed and one-timed it into the net for the games first score. Just a couple of minutes later, Frances Reuland was taken down inside the Gibbons penalty area; Dell took the ensuing PK, grazing it off the left post as CHHS went up 2-0.
With about 2 minutes left in the first half, Cardinal Gibbons was a awarded a penalty kick after a hard tackle just at the edge of the 18-yard box, a call which drew audible scorn from the CHHS fans present. The Crusaders Christina Gibbons put in the penalty kick to cut the margin to 2-1 at halftime.
Kimball scored what proved to be the game-winner with about 20 minutes left to play, off an assist from Melody Song, putting CHHS up 3-1.
Cardinal Gibbons (4-2-3) answered with a furious rally, throwing players forward and finally banging in a goal from Kaitlan Peeples in the closing minutes. But Chapel Hills Klara Calderon-Guthe, who splits time in the goal evenly with fellow keeper Maddie Mesaros, weathered the storm to preserve the Tigers undefeated string in Carolina-6 play.
"There have been some times when I just have to hold my breath," Benson said. "Teams will make run after run, but we keep having a defender sweep in at the last second."
Happy to have strong players at every position, a rarity for high school soccer, Benson noted that wing backs Laura Sullivan and Carly Narotsky have been adept at both defending in Chapel Hills defensive third and at pushing up to midfield, often kick-starting the offense with balls served forward. Theyve helped CHHS out-score opponents by a cumulative 49-11 margin.
Ranked No. 8 last week, Chapel Hill (10-2-0, 3-0-0 conference) was still below Cardinal Gibbons in the 3A poll when the Tigers hosted Northern Vance and demolished the Vikings 9-0. It was the sort of game where Benson had to work hard to keep his Tigers from tallying in double digits; for example, Kimball eschewed shooting on-frame, one of the few times this season that she hasnt scored a goal.
Chapel Hill is off for Spring Break and next plays April 11 at home against Webb (8-3-0) in a Carolina-6 match. The Tigers then play at 4A East Chapel Hill (4-3-2) on April 12.