LEWISVILLE Carrboro might not have seen it coming.
East Chapel Hill’s Maddie Futch has been a standout defender all season, but not a big goal-scorer for the Wildcats.
In the N.C. Field Hockey Association’s championship game Saturday, Futch stroked in Wildcats’ biggest goal of the year, one that lifted East Chapel Hill to a 2-1 overtime win over Carrboro and the Wildcats’ sixth straight NCFHA championship -- their 10th overall.
After top-seeded East and No. 2 Carrboro tied 1-1in regulation, two overtimes and two sets of penalty strokes, Futch’s goal came with 5.6 seconds left in a sudden-death overtime.
East Chapel Hill finished its year with a 20-3 record.
“It was pretty amazing,” said East Chapel Hill coach Susan Taylor.
Taylor, who played on East’s 2001 and 2002 championship teams and has coached the last five state champions, thought this year’s title may have been the best yet. She had predicted two years ago that Carrboro was on its way up, and the Jaguars’ addition to the NCFHA final four made this year’s tournament the most competitive ever.
Carrboro topped No. 6 Chapel Hill 3-1 in Friday’s semifinals, with Katie Wilson scoring twice and Maddie Smith twice for the Jaguars. East edged No. 4 Charlotte Catholic 2-1 in a sudden-victory stroke shootout to end the day’s first semifinal.
Friday, East’s Farrell Guest scored in the first half off an assist from Addie Agatucci before Catholic tied the game at 1-1. After two OTs, the teams entered a shootout. Marissa Creatore and Elianna Goldstein each scored on their penalty strokes, matching the Cougars in the first series.
On the second set of strokes, Creatore matched Catholic’s first hit, but the Cougars missed on their next try; Goldstein hit the second stroke and East goalie Grace Hayley blocked Catholic’s second try, sealing the semifinal win.
“Grace is without a doubt one of the biggest reasons out team has this championship,” Taylor said. “She had big saves against Charlotte Catholic and she had big saves against Carrboro.”
Friday marked the first time all three of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro districts high schools reached the NCFHA final four.
“With all three of the schools there, this championship was the most competitive it’s ever been,” Taylor said. “The level of play was really elevated, really great. It felt special to be part of it.”
Carrboro and East Chapel Hill had split their regular-season games, each winning by one goal at the other’s home field, so the Jaguars weren’t fazed by the heights they reached Saturday.
“Our goal from the beginning of the year was to get to that game,” Carrboro coach Morgan Cloutier said.
Cloutier, who played on a state championship team at Chapel Hill before playing at Ball State, said she had no mixed feelings about Carrboro’s win over the Tigers.
“None at all,” said Cloutier. “That was out best game of the year. We really put everything together in that one.”