Carrboro girls fall at Washington in state 2-A quarterfinals
The Washington girls soccer team survived the fourth round of the NCHSAA Class 2-A State Playoffs Saturday night, edging Carrboro 1-0 in a defensive showcase.
Spending most of their season scoring at ease and racking up shutouts, it took 80 minutes of gritty, hard-nosed play for the Pam Pack and goalie Emily Alligood to secure a spot in the regional final.
“We haven’t lost a game in almost three months,” said head coach Ed Rodriguez. “We really haven’t been tested. I was very concerned that it would take us a while to adjust to the speed of a very good passing team, but they responded well. Credit goes out to (the players).”
In a rather bitter sweet victory, Washington will likely move forward without their leading scorer. Christian Heggie, who leads Class 2-A with 55 goals, went down hard with eight minutes to go in the match, suffering an apparent knee injury. The Pam Pack’s captain and senior striker missed nine games last season with a similar injury.
Before the mishap, Carrboro established its offensive prowess early on, as head coach Jared Drexler employed a four-forward set, a formation the Pam Pack defense had never defended. To counter, Rodriguez switched to a 4-5-1 formation, dropping Heggie back to the midfield and keeping sophomore Isabella Mayo up front. The adjustment allowed Washington to develop counterstrikes off the few scoring opportunities presented to them.
After needing to make just three saves through the first three playoff games, Alligood faced two well-placed shots in the first minute from the Jaguars’ strikers, both on target and requiring diving efforts. Carrboro maintained the pressure and kept the ball on Washington’s side of the field for most of the first half, but were routinely denied by freshman Sydney Edwards in the backfield. The Jaguars recorded double-digit shots in the first half, yet Alligood remained poised in the net.
“I never thought our defense was going to do as well as they did,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve been playing good defense, but we haven’t played anybody of this caliber.”
Bruised and battered, both teams failed to notch a goal through the first 40 minutes. It was the first time since March 11 Washington failed to score in the first half.
Despite a quiet start, it took just two minutes and one timely opening in the Carrboro defense for the Pack to spoil the shutout. Racing up the right side, senior captain Harley Hudson, unassisted, dribbled past two defenders and toed a shot inches to the right of the goalie’s outstretched arms.
While the Jaguars still managed to win the possession game, holes were few and far between in the home team’s four-man defense.
Senior Caroline Houser fired a handful of shots from distance that Alligood saved rather easily. Following Heggie’s injury, Carrboro began to show its frustrating, fouling Washington hard and fighting for every possession. In the end, the Jaguars ran out of opportunities and time, as Washington settled for a one-goal victory.
“After 14 years, none of our teams have ever made it to the fourth round, much less a regional final playing at home,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a dream. It’ll be good for our program, and that’s what I really care about.”
With the win, the Pam Pack will host the No. 6 seed Croatan (17-3-3) on Tuesday in the regional final. Carrboro finishes its season 17-5.