FHS Women's Soccer, State Runner-up
Western Regional Champs (Allen Davis photo)
As the old saying goes, defense wins championships. It doesn't elaborate on what happens if two teams with stellar defenses meet in the finals, but there is now an answer to the riddle. A great match with roller coaster ups and downs!
Out of the West, Forbush surrendered zero goals on its march past Stuart Cramer, East Davidson, Polk County, Parkwood and Franklin. The closest match was the shootout win over the Franklin Panthers in the Western Regional final. Jessica Funk stepped up big for the Falcons as she blocked two penalties to secure the win for the Falcons. The Falcons outscored its opponents 15-0 heading into the Championship.
Out of the East, Carrboro also surrendered zero goals (one goal all season) as it outscored its opposition 17-0 heading into the Championship. Carrboro triumphed over Beddingfield, Croatan, Franklinton, Trinity and Dixon en route to the title match. Its wins over Croatan, Trinity and Dixon were all 1-0.
The match was slated to begin at 2:05, and after the introductions the players took the field ready for battle. It was the Jaguars of Carrboro that controlled the early going with good possession in the midfield. The Falcons normally have the advantage in possession, but were left to chase the ball throughout the first half.
Carrboro continued to build up down the right flank with two good chances coming in the first ten minutes of the match. Jessica Funk made a save to her left on a shot destined for the side net, and then made a great diving save to her right moments later to keep the Jags off the scoreboard. The Lady Falcons were able to get off one shot in the first half on a counter attack. Madison York got free in between the Carrboro center backs, and managed to work the ball into the box. The ball was poked away from York, but wound up at the feet of Shannon Holden who's shot rifled by the near post and out for a goal kick. At halftime, Carrboro held the advantage in possession and shots, but the score remained 0-0.
In the second half, the Falcons ramped up the intensity. High pressure from Nancy Rios and Shannon Holden earned the Falcons several corner kicks. The short corners caused the Jags all sorts of problems as Madison York was able to work herself free for a couple of shots that just missed the top corner of the goal. The Jags became frustrated with the physical play of the Falcons, and gave up a set piece that seemed to be the break the Falcons were looking for in the match. Madison York hit the shot from just outside the 18-yard box, but the shot sailed over the crossbar to the relief of the Carrboro keeper.
Carrboro had already lost its assist leader midway through the first half, and lacked the final pass to go with its possession game. Miah Araba (sophomore phenom) had to exit due to exhaustion and Michaela Stone took a ball to the face. The battled continued. The teams traded looks at goal, but nothing promising until the final minutes of regulation. With under five minutes remaining in the match, Nancy Rios received the ball just inside the 18-yard box on the left side. With little angle, Rios smashed the ball toward the goal. The keeper for Carrboro, Benedikte, could only push the ball away from the goal. A streaking Shannon Holden tried to cram the ball into the empty net, but the ball caught the outside of the goal post and bounced out of play. Regulation wasn't enough to divide these two teams, so they headed to a version of Silver Goal overtime. The two teams would play ten minute halves no matter the score. At the end of the two halves, a winner would emerge or the two teams would move onto Golden Goal.
Carrboro struck the first blow in the first ten minute period. Miah Araba hit two perfect corner kicks in succession. The first was tipped over the crossbar by Jessica Funk, but the second was too good to be defended. Funk reached up but could not get a finger on the in-swinging ball. As it curled into the back post, Anna Kathryn tried valiantly to keep it out with her head, but the ball shot up into the roof of the goal.
The Jaguars celebration didn't last long as the Falcons pushed hard to equalize. Nancy Rios worked herself into position to cross and served a ball to the near post. Madison York, stationed in front of the Carrboro keeper redirected the ball into the back of the net. Falcons equalize and momentum shifts back to Forbush. Two goals in just over a minute.
The second period of silver goal saw a tired bunch of girls for both teams. The Falcons were the deeper team and looked to be fresher down the stretch. Few chances came for either team until the Jags Miah Araba decided to be the hero. A lofted ball was cleared out of the box by the Falcon defense. The ball bounced out toward midfield and seemingly out of harm's way, but that is where Araba lurked. Without hesitation, Araba caught the ball square off the volley and rocketed it into the top of the goal to put the Jaguars ahead 2-1.
The Lady Falcons continued to work hard up to the final whistle but the equalizer never came. The Jags rushed the field to claim the State 2A Championship title.
The Falcons finished the season with a record of 21-4-1 and another Western Regional Championship (four total). Carrboro finished the season undefeated with a new NCHSAA record of only allowing two goals on the year.
Congratulations to both teams on a wonderful season!
Jessica Funk denies the Panthers final shot to propel the Falcons into the State Championship! Photo taken by Allen Davis of InAction Photography. This photo and many more of the Falcons soccer matches can be found at http://inaction.smugmug.com/Sports/SOCCER/FHS-WOMENS-SOCCER.