10/25/06 — Wayne Country Day exorcises 2nd-round curse

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Wayne Country Day exorcises 2nd-round curse

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 25, 2006 2:25 PM

The curse is broken.

A quarterfinal-round victim in the postseason each of the past three seasons, Wayne Country Day finally exorcised that worrisome demon Tuesday afternoon. Joseph Cha posted a hat trick and the Chargers ousted Cresset Christian 5-2 from the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A playoffs.

Wayne Country Day (13-4-1) secured its first semifinal appearance since 2001 when it emerged state runner-up that season to Greenfield. Coach Paul Estrada's team opposes third-seeded Gaston Day in the semifinals Friday at the Burt Gillette Complex in Wilson. Game time is 4:30 p.m.

"As a two seed, we've lost the last couple of years and we didn't know what to think coming into this one," said WCDS captain Sam Steed. "It seems the pressure kept building every time we lost."

The state-ranked Chargers claimed their first home playoff win in this decade. They scored five goals in a postseason match for the first time since 2003 when they knocked off county rival Wayne Christian 7-0.

"These guys have this idea like they have this curse on them," laughed Estrada. "I think that was playing in the back of their heads and they were trying to get over that.

"They played really tight when they should have been out there playing their game and putting the balls in the goal like they usually do."

Cha quickly provided some offense in the seventh minute. Cresset keeper Jamison Berthold booted a low goal kick and Cha intercepted it. He ripped a goal-scoring shot to the lower right corner of the net for the 1-0 lead.

The teams battled back and forth for the next 20 minutes until Cresset (12-7) tallied the equalizer. Playing with the wind at their backs, the Eagles pushed forward and knotted the contest at 1-1 on Maverick Fekete's goal.

Steed answered with a goal off Cameron Ford's assist late in the opening half. Steed received a well-timed pass from Ford, avoided the offsides trap and tucked the ball into goal.

On the ensuing restart, WCDS failed to drop back in transition. Cresset used the wind -- plus Fekete's capable foot -- to forge a 2-2 tie at halftime.

"They responded every time we scored, got it right back," said Steed. "It's like we let up a little every time."

Keeper Ryan Ford, Steed and co-captain Travis Davis expressed their displeasure at halftime. The trio reminded their teammates to step up and challenge 50-50 balls, and work better in transition from offense to defense.

Estrada urged his team to increase its intensity level and dash the Eagles' hopes of pulling off a second-round upset.

"I told the guys that these guys (Cresset) are not going to lay down for you," said Estrada. "They have nothing to lose and are going to come after you. If they lose, that's because they're expected to lose.

"If they win, then everybody sees them as great heroes and that's what everybody wants. It's obvious that's what they want."

Once the Chargers gained possession with regularity, their offense became more fluid and led to goals. Cha completed his hat trick with back-to-back goals off through balls from David Wilson and Cameron Ford.

Cha boosted his season total to 11 goals.

Steed said the team played with more confidence in the second half and Cha's goal in the 47th minute helped ease the pressure.

"We started stealing the ball, got one good break and took advantage of it ... finally," said Steed, who scored the game's final goal.

Notes: WCDS is 4-5 in the playoffs since 2001. ... Cresset is 1-3 in three playoff appearances. ... The Chargers owned a 29-9 edge in shots on goal. ... Ford had three saves, while Cresset's Berthold recorded 14 stops.