Published: Sep 22, 2012 06:00 PM
Modified: Sep 24, 2012 11:29 AM
Strictly by the numbers, the N.C. School of Science & Math took a big step toward another Carolina-12 1A/2A Conference title last week with a 2-1 win at Carrboro.
With the win, NCSSM (7-0-0) moved three games up on Franklin Academy and Raleigh Charter. The Unicorns have finished first among the league’s 1-A teams every year since 2009.
“This one could have decided the conference,” said NCSSM’s Ben Carlin, who scored the game-winning goal in the 68th minute of play Wednesday at Carrboro Stadium.
Carrboro (4-5-2), which came tantalizingly close to knocking off the Unicorns for the second year in a row, reset its priorities after the narrow loss.
“Right now, they (Science & Math) have the 1-A part. They are really in the drivers seat,” Carrboro coach Mark Kadlecik said. “What I want is for us to get the No. 1 seed of the 2A part of the conference. That’s our goal right now.”
The Carolina-12 will send teams into both the 1A and 2A post-season tournaments. NCSSM, a 1A school, was 6-0-0 in conference games after Wednesday. Carrboro, a 2A program, was 2-3-0 in league games, but had yet to get into the 2A portion of its schedule.
Carrboro, which had stunned NCSSM with a 3-1 win last year in Durham when both teams were in the state’s Top 10, thought it had the Unicorns on the ropes again Wednesday. The Jaguars rallied for an early 1-0 deficit and had the game tied at 1-1 when Thar Thwai was tripped inside the penalty area in the 62nd minute. But no penalty kick was awarded.
The no-call infuriated the home crowd, and, after a seven-minute delay to tend to fallen Unicorn player Wey-Wey Su, who suffered a split lip in a brain-rattling collision at midfield, the Jaguars seemed to lose their focus. In the 68th minute, barely 4:30 after the delay, Carlin took a long pass up the middle from Ibukun Ademoyero and streaked between two defenders to get one-on-one with keeper Murat Calikoglu. Carlin fired low past the onrushing keeper for the game-winner.
“A fantastic goal,” said NCSSM coach Henry Gallagher said. “That guy (Carlin) is the fastest guy on the field. That’s his strength, and we worked to it.”
Despite being outshot 23-7 for the game, NCSSM used it tremendous speed up front to threaten a strike at any moment all night. Su and fleet forward-mids Ademoyero and Carlin repeatedly put balls across the six, barely missing multiple opportunities for shots.
NCSSM scored in the fourth minute when Su intercepted a hard-struck ball that a defender was trying to clear laterally and slammed it back into the middle where Ademoyero one-timed it into the goal.
Carrboro out shot the unicorns 8-3 the rest of the first half and 23-7 for the game. But Science and Math’s back line blocked most of Carrboro’s shots, and Unicorn keeper Jin Kang saved three – including a hard-struck ball from Thwai just outside the 6 yard box that Kang punched over the crossbar.
The Jaguars finally got to Kang in the 51st minute. (14) Callahan sent a ball down the Carrboro sideline to Luke Hickey, who brought it down to the end line and sent it across the six to Thwai, who hammered it low into the center of the goal. Kang was able to dive and get a handle on it, but was only able to deflect it. That tied the game at 1-1 with 30:26 left in the match.
Carrboro dominated possession from there on, but only got a handful of good chances on the ball. Science and Math was content to man-mark Thwai the rest of the way and to wait for its chance.
“We love to play against Carrboro,” Gallagher said. “Because they play well, they play fast, they play physical, and those are the games we want.
“I told our players at halftime: I don’t care if we lose this game; this is the sort of game we want to be in. But keep playing all the way to the end, and you will win it.”
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