Unbeaten Ridgecroft ousts WCDS from 1A soccer playoffs
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 24, 2013 11:00 AM
WILSON -- One semifinal spot remained.
And Ridgecroft got the lucky strike.
Landon Larabee tallied an unassisted goal midway through the first half and the Rams hung on to defeat Wayne Country Day, 1-0, in quarterfinal-round play of the 2013 N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A boys' soccer playoffs Wednesday afternoon.
Fourth-seeded Ridgecroft (19-0-0 overall) opposes top-seeded Grace Christian of Sanford in semifinal-round play Friday afternoon at Greenfield School. Hickory Christian and Carmel Christian meet in the other semifinal.
The loss snapped Wayne Country Day's eight-match win streak and denied the Chargers a trip to the semifinals for the first time since 2009, and fourth time overall since 2001.
"That was tough to absorb," second-year WCDS head coach Steve Ellis said. "We were the better team, we just couldn't get that final little push to get the ball in the net."
The Chargers switched their defensive formation and held the fourth-seeded Rams to their lowest single-game goal output of the season. The quintet of Parker Smith, Lee McDonald, Cory Carpenter, Jacob Parks and Hayes Gerrard played superb against a Ridgecroft offense that averaged nearly six goals an outing.
Carpenter heavily marked Rams senior Barkan Koeprueleugil, who had punched in 29 goals this season. The striker had just one decent shot on frame during the 80-minute affair.
WCDS keeper Patrick Hall logged eight saves between the pipes and denied two goals off of set pieces. Ridgecroft also had two headers sail wide of the posts on corner kicks in the opening half.
"Defense ... credit to the boys," Ellis said. "We shut them down."
But Larabee's goal in the 20th minute stuck out like a sore thumb as the match progressed. His left-footed shot outside the 18-yard box deflected off the left post and into the back right corner of the net.
It was the Rams' 106th goal as a team this season.
"He took a lucky chance to shoot," Ellis said. "Buy the lottery (ticket), you have a chance win the prize or whatever."
The Chargers (11-7-1) played steady the remainder of the opening half and increased the pressure in the second half. A determined effort to score ended when the final whistle blew and capped a season that was a tale of two halves.
WCDS started the year 1-5-1, but slowly discovered its identity and began to gel as a group. Ellis' club triumphed in 10 of its final 12 games, and claimed the program's first-ever Coastal Plains Independent 1-A/2-A Conference championship along the way.
"Phenomenal ... couldn't ask for anything more from the lads, to be honest," Ellis said. "It's been a great year."
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