Tigers, Benson ride into state 3-A girls' soccer quarterfinals

May. 21, 2014 @ 10:37 PM

Chapel Hill bounced Cardinal Gibbons 2-1 in the 3-A state playoffs on Wednesday, the road win getting the Tigers a step closer to their goal of sending Coach Ron Benson into retirement with a state title.

“Doing it for Benson. We want to send him out with a state championship,” Chapel Hill’s Frances Reuland said. “Three more to go.”

Benson said he’s not caught up in the whole swan-song deal. The win over Cardinal Gibbons was a critical game simply because all postseason games are critical, Benson suggested.

“My coaches are trying to tell me (these final games are) special, but I take them just one at a time,” Benson said. “I thought we did what we had to do, and they did what they had to do. It just turned out they were one short.”

Benson said his team played tight during the first ten minutes, although Tigers midfielder Sofie Nielsen used a pass from Laura Sullivan to score less than three minutes into the contest.

“It was off the corner,” Nielsen said. “I think Mia (Spencer) hit the post, and then Laura hit it back to me. It was just perfect.”

Striking both first and relatively fast like that can be dangerous, because there’s a false sense of security that can creep in, Nielsen said.

“You can slack off, but we didn’t. We just kept on going,” Nielsen said.

At the 7:42 mark in the first half, Alex Kimball set up Reuland for a goal. The shot was a bit of a dud, but it counted.

“I shot it from the far post, but it wasn’t that powerful,” Reuland said. “(The goalie) dove a little bit too early. It kind of rolled off her fingertips.”

That was a designed play, Benson quipped.

“We’ve been working on that special spin,” Benson said.

“I’d say a lucky spin,” Reuland said. “Our coaches tell us that hard work makes luck, so hopefully that was it.”

At the 25:41 mark in the second half, Cardinal Gibbons got on the scoreboard when Morgan Reid from way out blasted the ball into the upper-left corner of the net.

Time was running out for the Crusaders, and the Tigers were playing keep-away.

With about a minute left in the game, Reid attempted a deep shot that sailed off the mark. The Tigers played a little more keep-away until the final seconds ticked off the clock.

“It was a tough one to lose, a tough way to lose — two unfortunate goals,” Reid said.

NOTES — The Tigers will play their state quarterfinal match at Swansboro, likely at 6 or 7 p.m. Saturday, but that’s tentative.