Ending the season on the last day has become a regular occurence for Carrboro's girls' soccer team and the Jaguars will do it again on Saturday going for their third straight N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A championship.
The Jaguars, who are seeking their fourth championship, will take on West Stokes at 5 p.m. at N.C. State's Dail Soccer Complex in Raleigh. Carrboro's previous two titles came against Forbush, while West Stokes returns to the title game for the first time since 2014 when it won its only championship.
Carrboro (20-1-1) has won 18 in a row and has relied heavily on its defense again for their third straight season. The Jaguars have surrendered only seven goals this season, which is in line with the single-digit totals of the past two seasons when they gave up two in their 2015 championship run and five last a year ago.
Carrboro coach Jared Drexler said jokingly that his team's defense is slipping.
"Two years ago it was two, last year it was five and now it's seven so we're going in the wrong direction," Drexler said. "But as long as we keep getting to the championship game and we're winning, I'm happy."
What would make Drexler the happiest, though, is to send his 10 seniors out with another title.
"This is a great senior class and their is a real sense of unity with them," Drexler said. "They're some fantastic soccer players, too. They've brought this program to new heights."
The Jaguars will be without one senior, though, as Natasha Turner, who's scored 14 goals this season, suffered a broken foot earlier in the playoffs and is out. But they've got midfielder Miah Araba (14g, 15a) and goalkeeper Grace Nanney holding the line. They've also gotten a boost from sophomore Alexa Wojnovich, who leads Carrboro in goal scoring with 21.
Nanney, who was in goal for last year's championship, said getting back to the title game was team's goal from the start.
"It's nice," Nanney said. "There's nothing like it. It's incredible."
Drexler said it has been tougher accomplishment each season.
"With us being state champs, there's going to be a target on our backs," Drexler said. "Everyone is going to give us there best."
West Stokes (24-3-1) enters the game on a nine-match winning streak after topping Hendersonville 1-0 in the West Region finals. The Wildcats, who have only three seniors, are a young team with 11 of their 18 players being freshmen or sophomores. Since starting 1-2, the only blemishes for West Stokes were a 1-1 tie with Winston-Salem Reynolds and a 2-1 loss at Forbush. In the playoffs, West Stokes' last three matches were one-goal victories.