RALEIGH – In a match that ended with two of its players disqualified and seven rounds of penalty kicks, the Lake Norman Charter girls soccer team fell 2-1 in the 2A state championship game to Carrboro May 25.
The Lady Knights entered having won their last 21 matches, including a 6-2 drubbing of Hendersonville in the West Regional finals May 21. But they lost for the second year in a row in the state title game, played at N.C. State University’s Dail Soccer Field.
“They played hard, I think we were probably the better team,” LNC head coach David Crutchfield said following the loss. “I think getting down really killed us. They were a good team, too. Coming down to PKs, I hate that – no talent involved there, just toe-poking it.”
The Jaguars found the back of the net early, as sophomore Navia Mosely scored on a header coming off a corner kick with 35:28 left in the first half.
LNC responded quickly, however, as leading scorer Ayden Yates converted on a Kasey Hahn pass with 29:56 remaining in the frame. Yates, a junior committed to play collegiately at Virginia Tech, had scored three or more goals four times in playoff games.
In the second half, Hahn received her second yellow card, forcing her to the bench for the remainder of the match.
Hahn’s absence left LNC without its second-leading scorer, and any offensive advantage gained by Yates or any other Lady Knight was subdued by Mosley, a sophomore who was named the championship’s Most Valuable Player.
“She killed it, she played great” Crutchfield said. “But the keeper probably should’ve won the MVP on that team. She saved the PKs.”
The Lady Knights had a 2-0 advantage after 2 1/2 rounds of penalty kicks, with freshmen Haven Stanley and Reese Robinson getting it past goalkeeper Lucy McDaniels. The next three kicks missed, including Yates hitting her attempt off the crossbar.
When five rounds of penalty kicks couldn’t decide a winner, it came down to golden-goal kicks, where an Olivia Winkler shot past LNC sophomore goalkeeper Kaela Rasenberger was the game-winner.
Two of the best scoring opportunities for LNC came in the second overtime. The Lady Knights had a corner kick that was stymied, followed less than a minute laster by a Yates breakaway that resulted in a Mosley foul and a free kick.
Crutchfield laments Yates hitting the ground after the contact.
“We probably should’ve set up some type of set piece but I know everybody was tired,” Crutchfield said. “When you sail it, you lose your chance. That hurt. That was our one and only opportunity. To be honest, I wish she wouldn’t have gotten that foul and stayed on her feet because if she stayed on her feet, we win that game. Free kick versus a breakaway.”
Also in that period, LNC sophomore Hallie Arko, who was involved with multiple collisions, received a red card for unsportsmanlike conduct and was ejected. Crutchfield said the referee told him it was for bad language.
Perhaps the best scoring chance in the 30 minutes of overtime came from Carrboro, when a shot from in front of the net sailed wide left.
Crutchfield said he had similar feelings after losing in last year’s title game, but is proud of the way his young team fought.
“It’s bittersweet – happy to get here but just sore to lose,” he said. “It hurts. I was super proud of the girls. To fight through two overtimes, golden-goal overtime with (nine) players on the field versus 11 was pretty awesome. I’m super proud of them because we didn’t have that last year.”
It was the fourth state championship for Carrboro in the last five years.
LNC finished with a 23-2 record and has gone 45-3-1 in Crutchfield’s two seasons as head coach.