Things are looking up for Riverside’s soccer team.
Led by two goals from Zach Lee, East Chapel Hill defeated the Pirates 2-1 last week, but at least they scored a goal.
The last time Riverside had scored a goal on East Chapel Hill, the Pirates went on to finish second in the PAC-6 behind conference power Jordan.
East Chapel Hill won its four previous meetings with Riverside by a cumulative 10-0. Riverside defeated East in 2009, winning both meetings that year 2-0 and 2-1, the last season that Riverside had a winning record.
“People need to take us for real because we’re a serious team,” Riverside coach Toppy Green said. “East Chapel Hill won the PAC-6 last year; we finished third. I’m very happy.”
East Chapel Hill (5-1-1 overall, 1-0-1 PAC), ranked No. 7 in the state by the 4A coaches and in the News & Observer’s regional rankings of all classes, definitely took Riverside (3-4-0, 0-1-0) seriously.
Wednesday at Wildcat Stadium, despite a couple of excellent chances early for East, Riverside struck first on an unlikely goal by Jose Enamorado.
Standing near the top of the penalty area with his back to the goal, Enamorado caught up with a ball that Wildcats were trying to clear. Without turning, Enamorado flicked the ball backwards over his head, trying to put the ball back into play.
East Chapel Hill goalkeeper Jake Hikey had a read on the ball and, instead of pouching it out, leapt to catch it as it came down almost vertically right at the touchline. As he caught it and came down, he brought the ball back over his head, apparently just inside the plane of the goal.
Most of East Chapel Hill’s players were incredulous that the official awarded a goal, giving Riverside a 1-0 lead with 8:33 remaining in the first half.
“I don’t know if it crossed the line or not. Our goalie said his hand hit the net advance what caused the net to move,” East coach Austin Collins said. “I’ll trust the official on that one.”
Lee’s first goal, coming in the final minute of the first half, was only slightly less dramatic.
Rushing toward the goal, Riley Read flicked a header over towards Lee, who caught up to it on the first bounce as he was sprinting towards the near post. With a collision imminent, Lee was able to knock the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper to tie the game at 1-1.
“At halftime, Coach (Collins) really talked to us, and he told us that to get the conference championship, which is our goal this year, we really have to turn it on,” Lee said. “We can’t let these teams, which we’re supposed to beat, beat us.”
East had almost complete control in the second half, dominating the time of possession and getting almost all the good scoring chances. That included a nice shot by Michael Krantz in the 51st minute that required a back save by a Riverside defender.
“I told them what they were playing for in the second half – a conference championship,” Collins said. “Lose this one and we would be playing from behind and our destiny would not be in our own hands. This was big, and they knew it, and they definitely responded.”
In the 56th minute, Lee ran onto a ball laid just outside the 6-yard-box by Michael Balog and one-timed it hard off the hands of diving goalkeeper Daniel Thompkins.
“There was a deflection, but I hit it hard enough that it went through,” Lee said. “I just tried to get everything into it, because to beat him I knew it had to be hard.”
In other games last week, Chapel Hill (7-4-0) won for the third time in four games by beating Cedar Ridge 8-1. Nate Hebert and Ben Fisher both recorded hat tricks and added an assist in the win, while Daniel Henao had a goal and an assist. Chapel Hill’s goalkeepers got into the scoring column; Hugh Kelley scored one goal and Justus Heizer had an assist. Cedar Ridge’s goal was scored by Bryan Delcid, assisted by Darwin Fuentes.