State soccer quarters: Carrboro wins; Chapel Hill, NCSSM, Woods Charter out
The penalty kick.
It’s one of the most intense one-on-one showdowns in sports, a dramatic high-wire act pitting raw physical skill and a booming kick from spitting distance against a goalie’s reaction, lunge velocity and reach.
Defending 3-A state champion Jacksonville, the No. 4 seed in the East Region, nailed one of two first-half penalty kicks Saturday night and then shut out a stunned No. 1 seed Chapel Hill 1-0 to end the Tigers’ quest for a state title two games short of the goal.
“PKs. I’ve had so many taken on me, and you can’t get to all of them,” an emotional Justus Heizer said after the 10 devastated seniors on the Chapel Hill squad gathered on the field for one last post-game moment of hugs, tears, handshakes, pained smiles and reflection.
“It’s a 50-50 chance and you just have to guess” when defending against a penalty kick, said Heizer, who had an outstanding night in the net and several jaw-dropping stops among his seven saves.
“He got that one and it was well placed, so nothing I could have done,” Heizer said.
Carrboro was the only area team to win its quarterfinal round playoff game Saturday night.
The Jaguars, the No. 7 seed in the East Regional at 17-5-2 downed No. 3 seed Clinton (21-3-2) 1-0 to advance to the East Region 2-A championship game at No. 1 Kill Devil Hills First Flight (22-0) on Tuesday.
Carrboro’s Hans Singh fired home the game’s only goal with just over a minute remaining in regulation, converting a pass from Nico Krachenfels and making a winner of goalkeeper Murat Calikoglu, who slammed the door on Clinton all night.
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First Flight (22-0) beat No. 5 seed N.C. Science & Math 2-0 in Kill Devil Hills Saturday night, eliminating the Unicorns after a 17-4-2 season.
First Flight scored twice in the final four minutes — on on a penalty kick — to snap a 0-0 tie.
Andrew Lash had kept NCSSM in the game with 12 saves in goal.
The winner of Tuesday’s Carrboro-First Flight game will advance to the state championship game next weekend.
In other area state quarterfinals Saturday night, 1-A East No. 7 seed Raleigh Charter (20-5) beat No. 5 seed and North Central 1-A Conference rival Woods Charter 3-1 in Chapel Hill to end Woods Charter’s season at 17-4.
In Chapel Hill, Jacksonville Cardinal senior forward Tyler Moore admitted there wasn’t a lot of strategy involved in his penalty kick with 1:37 remaining in the first half. It was the second PK called against the Tigers, both of which drew lusty jeers from the Chapel Hill fans who disagreed vehemently with the calls.
“When Warren (Washington) got fouled, Warren didn’t want it because he missed the last one,” Moore said.
“So I stepped up and just put it away. I had nothing going through my mind, just to put it in the net,” Moore said. “During practice we do PK’s, and we always go the same way, we never change it up. It’s just a personal preference. I always go right.”
Heizer, who dove to his right to repel the first penalty kick, this time leapt to his left, but the ball just eluded his fingertips into the right corner of the net.
Moore said Jacksonville was happy to get past this game, which he described as “pretty physical.”
“We don’t want to get too cocky because we still have another game, but we’re hoping we can win it again,” he said of the Cardinals’ desire to repeat as 3-A champs.
With Chapel Hill outshooting Jacksonville 21-9 and corner kicks even at two apiece, Tigers coach Ron Benson said there was very little in the game plan he would have changed.
“They got the PK’s and we didn’t score, so that’s what happens. Otherwise it would be 0-0 and we’d be playing overtime,” Benson said.
“We didn’t put it across the box quite as much as we normally do. I think we were looking for that tying score,” he said.
“We normally take it to the end line more and put it on the six, but tonight we were letting them see the ball too much. We were crossing outside, which gives the keeper time to react,” Benson said.
Jacksonville, ranked No. 8 in the state by MaxPreps.com, was fast and scrappy.
“Obviously you don’t see that kind of team every time you play. We knew they had fast players up top, but we thought we could nick a couple of goals off them,” said Benson, whose Tigers were ranked 13th in the state.
“The kids did what we asked them to do other than maybe taking the ball to the end line a little deeper. These kids have done exactly what we’ve told them to do the last 20 games to tell you the truth and it’s worked out every time but this one,” Benson said.
Heizer “makes a lot of saves,” he said. “And then a second PK comes jumping at you. It’s a little unusual to get two PK’s in one half.”
But Benson was not second-guessing.
“The sideline guy made the first call, and the center ref made the second call,” he said. “As a coach I just have to defer to the referee’s judgment and hope it was the right call.”
Although the Tigers bowed out of the playoffs, Benson gave them a stirring testimonial.
“The best team we’ve had in a long time in a lot of ways, not just technical but in attitude and unselfish play. Everybody felt comfortable giving it to somebody else to make the play, so I don’t think I could ask for any better situation than what we had this year, other than this game,” he said.
“I’ve known these boys probably 10 years now, and some of them I even play club with. I know this means the world to them so it’s definitely a big deal for us,” Heizer said of the season-ending loss.
“Basically all these seniors are a helluva family, and we definitely love each other. It’s really heartbreaking to see this go down, but it happens,” he said.
The team’s final 24-2-1 record was an “amazing” accomplishment, Heizer said. “Since I’ve played on this team we haven’t had a better record than that. It’s great to have that. We know we’re good and we know we could have won this game and that it was a good fight.”