No. 1 Panther Creek stops East Chapel Hill in 4-A quarters
If success for an athletic program is measured against the results of past seasons, this year’s East Chapel Hill girls soccer team may be dually remembered as its season ended with a 4-0 loss at Cary Panther Creek High School in the NCHSAA 4-A quarterfinals on Friday.
By advancing to the quarterfinal match, the team tied the the furthest the school has placed in 4-A competition. However, with a loss to Jordan in the final game of the season, this year’s Wildcats were the first to not win the PAC-6 title.
As a result, the playoffs were their chance to write their redemption story, and perhaps set the stage for the future.
“For them to make it this far is awesome for them,” said East Chapel Hill coach Austin Collins. “It was a tough loss at the end of the regular season where we played Jordan for the PAC-6 title. For them to rebound, come back, and get this far in the playoffs is really great.
“We had great senior leadership. We’re losing six great girls, but we had a really young team as well, they set a great example for the younger girls.”
The Wildcats were no match for the Catamounts as the girls of Panther Creek, who are undefeated (22-0-1) and top ranked in 4-A, took advantage of two early mistakes by the Wildcats to take control of the game early.
Courtney Cash scored off a turn over six minutes into the match to give the Catamounts a lead. Only four minutes later, Justine James broke through the Wildcats’ defensive backs to score easily and give the Catamounts a 2-0 lead.
“We made two mistakes in the first half,” Collins said. “Maybe we get away with those against any other team. But they (the Catamounts) are going to punish you. It took the wind out of our sails.”
East Chapel Hill was not without its chances. Brynn Donnelly found Lauren Douglass for a shot on goal early in the match. But the Panther Creek goalkeeper stepped up and caught the ball 20 feet from the net.
Claudia Sollee set her Wildcats teammates up to score mid way through the first half as she place the ball in front of the goal from 30 yards away. None of her teammates were able to get a head or foot on the ball and the chance went wasted without a shot on goal.
The chances that presented themselves to East Chapel Hill came far a few between, however, as the Catamounts outshot the Wildcats 18 to 5 on the match, 10 to 3 in the first half alone.
Only three minutes into the second half, the Catamounts closed the door on a chance for a Wildcats comeback, Alex Pagano scoring a goal after her first shot deflected off the goal post and opportunistically landed in front of her with no defenders in the way.
The match was ultimately an issue of the Wildcats being outmatch on the Catamounts side of the field.
“I thought that our defense, Neely Holroyd, Claudia Solle, and Mia Colloredo, did awesome,” said Collins. “They really only got behind us a couple times and they scored on them.”
Panther Creek 4, East Chapel Hill 0
East Chapel Hill 0 0 — 0
Panther Creek 2 2 — 4
33:58 – Courtney Cash (PC)
30:01 – Justine James (PC)
37:01 – Alex Pagano (PC)
30:36 – James (PC)
Records: East Chapel Hill 14-5. Panther Creek 22-0-1.