ECH wins share of PAC-6 title, but Jordan wins flip for No. 1 seed
With nearly half the first period elapsed, East Chapel Hill co-captain Caitlin Scurria used her head to put the Wildcats on the board and on the path to an unbeaten PAC-6 4-A conference co-championship with a 6-0 win over Riverside Thursday night.
The senior right defender was centered in front of the net when freshman teammate Mia Colleredo-Mansfield drilled a perfect pass from the left side of the goal. Without flinching, Scurria bopped a header into the left corner at 17:50.
“It was just fun to come out for the last time with a regular season home game” on senior night, said Scurria, a three-year varsity starter.
“Tons of people scored. It wasn’t just our regular forwards. Everyone got out and got good playing time and I just think it was a good opportunity for everyone to play hard,” she said.
Although they were unbeaten in conference play, the Wildcats (12-4-4, 10-0-2 PAC-6) enter the state playoffs as the No. 2 conference seed behind Jordan, with which it shared the PAC-6 championship. The two teams met twice in the regular season, playing to nil-nil draws both times.
Jordan (14-2-2, 10-0-2 PAC-6) beat Riverside (8-7-1, 6-6 PAC-6) in its regular-season finale Wednesday night.
“We had to do a coin flip tonight to determine the seeds,” said East Chapel Hill first-year coach Jared Drexler, recalling the process at a pre-game meeting of PAC-6 coaches.
“I wish we could just play a game and settle it that way,” Drexler said. But that tiebreaker possibility was scrubbed because the Wildcats already had three conference games this week.
The winner of the coin flip, Jordan coach Sarah Kaneko, had left ECH and was home when she heard the Wildcats’ score, but since she already had the No. 1 seed in her pocket, she and the Falcons were celebrating.
“All of us, especially the players, are really excited,” said Kaneko, in her second season at the Jordan helm. “We’ve got a big senior class — nine girls — and about half of them have been with us since their freshman years. They’re committed and invested in the program and it’s great for them to finally win — or share — a co-championship.”
The Falcons, who finished second in the PAC-6 to East last year, will host a first-round 4-A state playoff game either Tuesday or Wednesday against Raleigh Broughton.
East Chapel Hill is expected to host Cary on Wednesday to begin its state title quest.
“We played them earlier in the season over at their place, and we did not have our best effort,” Drexler said. “So, actually, I’m kind of pleased with the draw because of the familiarity, they know they didn’t play well so they have something to prove, and it’s at home, so that’s kind of to our advantage.”
Riverside coach Toppy Green said his Pirates were unable to keep pace for two halves with what he called a very talented East Chapel Hill team. His girls played tough in a 3-0 loss to Jordan on Wednesday in which “these girls played their hearts out,” he said.
The Pirates finished fourth in the PAC-6 and also advance to the state 4-A tournament.
After Scurria’s score, PAC-6 player of the year Jordan Donnelly, a junior, found open net at 12:32 and booted straight on to score. Sophomore Emma Daum made a shot from left to right, finding the corner of the net at 3:12 to end the half at 3-0.
Senior Amanda Lohman started the scoring in the second half, slamming the ball from right to left to score at 23:36. Junior Dylan Bedell squared in front of net and boomed a kick straight on at 21:49, and sophomore Anna Setzer came barreling downfield with the ball at 15:49 to boot in the final score.
“It’s been a growing season but I think everyone has put in their best effort. We’ve never had a game where everyone didn’t work hard,” Scurria said.
“We started off kind of rocky, but I think it brought us closer and made everyone work harder, and everyone came together and finished up well,” she said. “We all work for each other.”
“Me being a new coach, I put them in a new formation that they weren’t used to, and a lot of girls were playing a new position, so it took a little time to get comfortable with where they are,” Drexler said.
The Wildcats lost back-to-back games to Carrboro and Chapel Hill to start the season, “but knew we were a good team,” Drexler said. “Once they started getting it and really understanding what each other was doing and what I wanted, it just started clicking.”
— Staff writer Mark Donovan contributed to this story with report on Jordan High School.
East Chapel Hill 6, Riverside 0
Riverside 0 0 — 0
East Chapel Hill 3 3 — 6
17:50 Caitlin Scurria (ECH), assisted by Mia Colleredo-Mansfield.
12:32 Jordan Donnelly (ECH), unassisted.
3:12 Emma Daum (ECH), unassisted.
23:36 Amanda Lohman (ECH), unassisted.
21:49 Dylan Bedell (ECH), unassisted.
15:49 Anna Setzer (ECH), unassisted.
Records — Riverside 8-7-1, 6-6 PAC-6. East Chapel Hill 12-4-4, 10-0-2 PAC-6.
* ECH shares PAC-6 regular-season title with Jordan, both 10-0-2. Riverside finishes fourth, earns state playoff berth.