On the cusp of starting conference play, Carrboro High School’s soccer team was looking for positives last week after a 4-0 loss to district rival Chapel Hill.
Given that the score was 0-0 as long as there were 11 Jaguars playing gave them some hope.
“I know the score says 4-0, but I think we can take some positives from this game” Carrboro head coach Jared Drexler said. “This wasn’t a 4-0 game.”
Ranked No. 2 in the state’s 3A classification, the Tigers (8-1-1) have scored at least four goals in each of their wins so far, amassing 40 total to just eight for their opponents. The only times they gave more than one goal were in a 3-1 loss to No. 11 ranked 4A No. 11 New Hanover (7-1-2) and in a 4-2 season-opening win against 2A No. 12 Jordan Matthews (5-3-0).
Carrboro (ranked No. 10 in the 2A class despite a 2-5-1 record) tied 4A East Chapel Hill 4-4 last Monday and then played Chapel Hill evenly until a red card in the 23rd minute “changed everything,” Drexler said.
Chapel Hill broke through with 17:47 left in the first half, as Nate Hebert got loose inside the box and fired a waist-high shot that flew behind goalkeeper Richard Cato. A Carrboro defender at the goal mouth swatted the ball down with his left hand, bringing a red card and a penalty shot.
Ben Fisher hit the penalty shot low and left for a 1-0 CHHS lead.
The Tigers took a 9-4 edge in shots the rest of the first half – 19-9 for the game. But what impressed both Drexler and Chapel Hill coach Ron Benson was how Carrboro, playing a man down, stayed in the match.
Hebert, assisted by Connor Albrecht, scored in the 42nd minute to put Chapel Hill up 2-0, and Hebert then assisted John Walden in the 48th minute to make it a 3-0 game. Still, Carrboro maintained its intensity until the end, even after Brandon Walker skittered a ball through a clump of players to apply the coup de grace with 3:40 left in the game.
“The red card did slow them down for a while,” Benson said, “But sometimes a team will get a man up and play worse; the other team will play at 110 percent, so it’s like they still have 11 out there.”
After the game, Drexler told his players to focus on that energy they displayed while a man down.
“The red card really changed the game; that didn’t help us at all,” Drexler said. “But I told our guys to look at the positives. Our guys went out there and played their tails off. I think this was the first, real 80-minute effort we’ve had. A saw a lot of player showing leadership out there.”
Hebert, with a goal and an assist despite being denied the first score, said both teams maintained their intensity despite the disparity in players on the field – or their respective records.
“The rivalry is always there, so the takes are always high,” Hebert said. “It’s always going to be a huge game for both of us.”
Next: Chapel Hill opened Big-8 Conference play by blowing out Northwood 4-1 last Monday and Oxford Webb 10-1 last Wednesday; the Tigers get back to Big-8 games Monday at Cedar Ridge and then at home Wednesday against Orange.
Carrboro enters Mid-South Conference play this week with a home game Monday against Bartlett Yancey (4-5-0) and on the road Wednesday at Burlington Cummings.