Prep Soccer 2A state championship: Salisbury 3, Carrboro 2, sudden death
By David Shaw
CARY — Open the trophy case at Salisbury High School and make room for one more state championship plaque.
After years of near-misses and might-have-beens, the SHS boys soccer team caught up with history Saturday afternoon at WakeMed Park.
“It feels like this was meant to be,” senior Kenny Bonilla said after the Hornets captured the 2A title with a 3-2 sudden-death victory over Carrboro. “After everything we’ve been through and all the games — beating Cuthbertson in overtime, coming back from two goals down to win at Shelby and now today … going back and forth. I’m just so happy for everyone on this team.”
Salisbury (24-1-1) completed its remarkable magic carpet ride though the playoffs when game-MVP Emmy Turcios scored at 1:50 of sudden death, triggering an emotional explosion.
“There’s absolutely nothing anybody can do for the rest of our lives to take this away from us,” first-year coach Matt Parrish crowed while basking in the post-game limelight. “We are the North Carolina state champions. It is ours forever.”
Salisbury bulldozed its way through crisis after crisis to prevail. Twice the Hornets failed to hold one-goal leads. They were outshot 19-10. There were costly injuries to Bonilla and Turcios — their two most dangerous forwards. And defenders Luke Hutton and John Canipe were nursing post-game wounds.
“Didn’t matter,” winning keeper Connor Miller said after making 10 saves. “Even with players hurt, we kept playing. We kept getting through it. And just when it felt like we’d done enough, they’d come back and get even.”
It seemed like the Hornets won the match three times but gave it back the first two. They took a 1-0 lead when Turcios knocked a bouncing ball off his right thigh and past Carrboro keeper Joe Maffly-Kipp five minutes into the second half.
“I couldn’t reach it with my foot, so I got it with this part,” Turcios said, pointing to his thigh.
The Jaguars (24-2-2) caught Salisbury sleeping and answered 11 minutes later when Sam Hickey beat Miller on a tic-tac-toe play in front of the cage.
“I’m never comfortable with a 1-0 lead,” Parrish said. “When it was 0-0 we were playing our style of soccer, playing how we needed to play. Then we scored and suddenly became more protective of our box. We got a little more rigid. Believe me, winning the game 1-0 was the last thing I wanted to do.”
The first 10-minute overtime period produced a pair of heart-in-your-throat moments for SHS. First came a tie-breaking goal by freshman Michael Brown — the same Michael Brown who’s late goal dethroned defending state champ Shelby on Thursday night.
“My idea was to put it in the box. That’s what I try to do every time,” beamed Hanson Saryee, the senior defender who assisted on the play. “He just happened to be there. That’s what every great team is made of. If one player doesn’t do it, someone else will.”
Moments later, someone else did. Canipe prevented a certain Carrboro goal when he sacrificed his body — suffering a right-side abrasion and upset stomach when he collided with the left post while sliding feet-first along the goal line.
“I was caught out of position,” Miller said. “But (Canipe) came all the way across the box and took one for the team. His right side was squished against the post.”
The Jags tied the score for the second time when Hickey pumped a high shot beyond Miller’s reach midway through the second OT.
“Back-and-forth, back-and-forth,” said losing coach Mark Kadlecik. “There were lots of defensive breakdowns for both teams. Unfortunately for us, the last one happened to us.”
The winning play followed impromptu pep talks by assistant coach Daniel Butner, forward Bobby Cardelle and a few choice words from defensive leader Spencer Dixon. Midfielder B.J. Woods lifted a ball toward the cage before it pinballed back to him. He then sent a pass to Zack Zukkasem, who side-footed a feed to Turcios — who banged home the game-winner.
“I don’t know where I got that energy,” he said after netting his 19th goal. “Somehow it went in. Amazing.”
Maffly-Kipp insisted he saw the shot all the way.
“We were just being aggressive in the back and that left us exposed,” he said. “This time it cost us. (Turcios) probably put it in the only place I didn’t have covered.”
And it put Salisbury in the record books as Rowan County’s first soccer state champion. No one can take that away.
“It’s pretty special,” Bonilla said in the jubilant Salisbury locker room. “We’ve got a little bit of everything in here — from every race and every class. And for some reason, everybody stepped up big in the playoffs.”
NOTES: Salisbury won its last 10 matches, including all six in the postseason. … Turcios was the first Hornet to score a “golden goal” since David Simons beat East Lincoln the 2009 playoffs. … Parrish served 10 years as a Salisbury assistant coach before taking over this season.