Cary regroups after storm delay, tops ECH
No. 4 Cary regrouped from a stormy start in the first round of the state 4-A girls’ soccer playoffs and booted No. 2 East Chapel Hill from the postseason with a 2-1 win on Thursday that required a two-day road trip.
The match was suspended on Wednesday because of thunder and lightning. When the game resumed on Thursday with 14:27 left in the first half, ECH was up 1-0 on a penalty kick by Dylan Bedell on Day 1.
Cary had beaten East Chapel Hill earlier in the season, but the Wildcats didn’t bring their “A” game that time, ECH coach Jared Drexler said.
“That storm definitely didn’t help us,” Drexler said. “We were ready to go (Wednesday) night, up one-nothing. I think we had them scared. I think they were on their heels a little bit, and then that storm came in and it just seemed like a different story.
“That storm — maybe they got a chance to refocus. It didn’t help us out at all.”
The Imps started off flat on Day 1, Cary coach Laura Kerrigan said.
“We feel like we came out very lethargic (Wednesday), and then we had a PK called against us, so we were not real happy with how the game was going,” Kerrigan said. “I think right after they scored the goal, ... that’s when the momentum changed because that’s when we started putting pressure on them.”
The Imps were scared that the first half would elapse while they were on the wrong side of the scoreboard, Kerrigan said.
“That’s what I was really afraid of happening,” Kerrigan said. “Half a game would count as an official game, so that’s what we were worried about. Nobody wants to lose the game on a penalty kick.”
A goal by Cary senior Bria Dixon made it a 1-1 game at halftime.
Kerrigan said she challenged her team to start Day 2 by playing passionate soccer.
Cary’s Phoebe Shurtleff scored off of a feed from Kyra Kandel with 38:23 remaining in the second half.
That left a lot of time for ECH to try to connect with the back of the net, but the Wildcats couldn’t make it happen, bringing an end to what Drexler described as a solid but trying season.
“We went through a ton of adversity,” Drexler said.
Just this week in practice, backup goalie Riley Foster injured her hand, so Drexler inserted sophomore Callie Williams and put her in goal, a position she hadn’t spent much time playing for ECH’s jayvee team.
“She was scared,” Drexler said. “She stepped up big-time.”
ECH losing to lower-seeded Cary out of the Tri-Nine Conference was hardly an upset, Drexler said.
“Their conference is a lot stronger than ours,” Drexler said.
This was Drexler’s first season as ECH’s head coach, and he guided the Wildcats to a PAC-6 co-championship with Jordan.
When times got tough during the season, the Wildcats toughed them out, Drexler said.
“Throughout the season, with everything that’s happened, I never heard one complaint, one ‘what-if-this-happened,’ would’ve-should’ve-could’ve — none of that,” Drexler said. “It was always positive. Credit to them — that’s just a testament to their character and who they are”
Cary 2, ECH 1
Goals—Cary, Bria Dixon, Phoebe Shurtleff; ECH, Dylan Bedell. Assists—Cary, Kyra Kandel. Shots—Cary 12; ECH 5. Saves—Cary 2 (Mackenzie Williams 2); ECH 5 (Callie Williams 5).
Records—Cary 11-6-2; East Chapel Hill 12-5-4.