Published: Nov 18, 2012 10:26 AM
Modified: Nov 18, 2012 11:40 AM
SILER CITY - Carrboros soccer team got the shot it wanted at the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2A championship that eluded it last year.
The Jaguars edged Jordan-Matthews 2-1 in the Eastern Regional championship match. Wednesday nights road win earned Carrboro (18-6-3) a trip to N.C. State Universitys Dail Soccer Stadium to play West Region champion Cuthbertson (22-3-1) on Saturday for the state championship.
(Saturdays championship game was played too late for todays edition of the Chapel Hill News. See todays News & Observer or newsobsrver.com for a report.)
Waxhaws Cuthbertson is the same school Carrboros girls beat last spring for their NCHSAA 2A championship.
Ranked No. 1 in the state and seeded No. 1 out of the eight-team Rocky River 1A/2A, Cuthbertson made its way to Saturdays state final after getting by Newwton-Conover 2-1 in overtime Tuesday night the Cavaliers 11th straight win.
Coach Mark Kadleciks Carrboro team lost to Salisbury 3-2 in overtime in the championship last year. That was a strong senior team, he said, and the Jaguars had to fill a lot of holes and show continued improvement to have a shot at returning to the championship match.
Even Kadlecik wasnt sure they could do it.
To be honest, I didnt expect to be here, Kadlecik said. And then we start the season something like 5-6-2. So for us to get to the 2A finals is a real testament to our guys. They really work hard, theyre a pleasure to coach and Im just honored to be a part of this program and be in the state finals again.
No. 2-ranked Jordan-Matthews (19-5-1) had a state championship in 2004 as part of its formidable soccer history, and it was riding an 11-game win streak heading into Wednesdays match. But Carrboro had experience with Jordan-Matthews, having edged the Jets 4-3 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie in regulation during the early season Orange-Chatham Challenge.
I like to think our kids are battle-tested now, Kadlecik said. Theyve been in a lot of close matches and played in just about every type of game scenario.
The Jets started out as the offensive aggressor Wednesday, but the Jags struck first Wednesday, 10 minutes into the game, when Mike McPeak scored from 20 yards straight out.
Jordan-Matthews tied the score 14 minutes later when Darwin Ramirez gathered in a loose ball about 15 yards out and made the shot.
The game-winning goal came during the 50th minute on a nice play as Luke Hickey fed the ball from the left to Nico Kranchenfels, who was breaking toward the goal. Kranchenfels took the pass and converted.
Carrboros defense then took over, with goalkeeper Murat Calikoglu stepping up to make a couple of crucial saves. The Jaguars also had to play the final minutes without senior leader Thar Thwai, who was injured.
This was a tough game, tough environment, and they had a great crowd, Kadlecik said. And playing without Thar hurt. We had to make some adjustments. Murat did show his class today, and it was a total team effort.
It was not known last week if Thwai would be able to play in the championship final, but Kadlecik was pessimistic about his seniors ability to play at 100 percent.
A sprained ankle and striking a soccer ball dont usually mix very well, Kadlecik said.
Jordan-Matthews coach Paul Cuadros lamented his Jets loss, but noted he should have most of them back next year.
We only have a couple of seniors on this team, and only one starts, Cuadros said. We started out the game strong on the attack and then had an error on defense on that first goal. And thats because this is a very young squad. This season weve had to figure out roles, where people would play, finding out where they fit in.
Its a talented bunch. There are some kids on this team with tremendous amounts of technical skill with the ball. Our kids play in the streets and playgrounds, and thats the strength of our team, they get very creative.