Chargers capture first-ever CPIC boys' soccer championship
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 13, 2013 1:50 AM
Wayne Country Day's players hoisted the long-awaited trophy into the misty air and camera flashes froze the historical moment in time.
This victory was like a fine wine -- years in the making and a sweet nectar to taste after the cork was popped.
Senior midfielder Miller Gerrard punched in two goals and the Chargers claimed their first-ever Coastal Plains Independent 1-A/2-A Conference boys' regular-season title with a 5-1 trouncing of Freedom Christian on Friday afternoon.
WCDS seized the automatic bid to the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A playoffs, which begin Oct. 19.
"The boys deserve it," Chargers head coach Steve Ellis said.
The Chargers took command early.
Gerrard notched his first goal 32 seconds into the opening half. Patriots keeper John Jones stopped a point-blank shot by Gerrard and deflected a rebound attempt by Ramel Carpenter.
The ball landed in open space and Gerrard did the rest.
"I saw the ball, had the shot, Ramel put it back and it rebounded off the goalie," said a mud-covered Gerrard. "I saw where I needed to be, made the run there and placed it where I needed to."
It was Gerrard's fourth goal of the season.
The teams played a frenetic pace for the next 28 minutes on a soggy pitch that became even more slick as the match progressed. The Patriots (6-4-1 overall, 6-4-0 CPIC) couldn't get their top goal scorer, senior Cihan Gunduz, many touches against a WCDS defense that constantly intercepted passes and pushed the ball back upfield.
Unlike their previous meeting on a smaller field, the Chargers (10-6-1, 8-2-0) used the width to create space and open lanes to the goal.
"Here we made them run a little further with the width and played it to the middle, then played it wide and we had chances on goal," Ellis said. "I don't think Freedom were expecting us to come out guns blazing that quick. To score quickly piled all of the pressure onto them.
"It makes it easier for us because they have to come out and leave spaces for us to get behind them where we're attacking."
Wayne Country Day's title-clinching goal occurred in the 30th minute. Matt Kierski knocked the ball off of a defender, which forced a throw-in near the FCA bench. Hayes Gerrard threw it to Jacob Magera's feet, who flicked the ball to Miller Gerrard.
Gerrard converted to make it 2-0.
The Chargers' Magera scored in the 38th minute off of Kierski's corner kick and another corner kick by Kierski deflected off the keeper's gloves into the net to make it 4-0 at halftime.
WCDS added an own goal in the second half.
Freedom needed a win to create a three-way tie with WCDS and Epiphany for the CPIC championship. Instead, the Chargers are heading into the postseason with a seven-game win streak.
"We knew since the beginning of this week that if it came down to this game, we had to get it done and that's what we wanted to do," Gerrard said. "We wanted this conference championship more than anything."
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