South Iredell tops Carson in overtime
By David Shaw
CHINA GROVE — Add Carson to the list of girls soccer teams frustrated by NPC-leading South Iredell this season.
The host Cougars were likely denied a shot at their first conference championship Monday night when fell, 2-1 in overtime, to the defending league champs.
“We’re encouraged, actually,” said Carson coach Lauren West. “We knew they’d be a tough team because they’re always a tough team every single year. They go pretty far in the playoffs also. This was sort of a measuring-stick game for us to see how we show up against all the other talent in the conference. We knew they were the top dog and obviously wanted to beat them.”
Carson (12-4-1, 7-1) suffered its first loss since March 21 — ending a nine-game winning streak — and dropped into second place. South Iredell (11-5, 8-0) won for the fifth time in its last six matches.
“I’m just proud of our girls,” said winning coach Marissa Wingate. “Coming back from a 1-0 deficit, coming back from spring break, it shows the heart they played with.”
Junior Lindsay Durham scored both goals for South Iredell, including the game-winner with 2:33 remaining in the second overtime period. Carson took a 1-0 lead just 6:55 into the match, when sophomore forward Emelyn Sotelo loft a 25-yard beach ball shot from the right side that floated over Vikings’ goalkeeper Margaret Gourley.
“Lucky, but we’ll take lucky,” West smiled. “Our approach has always been to wait and see what the other team does, then make a judgement and kick it into gear. That’s kind of the way the game went.”
South threatened on two occasions late in the first half, but stilled trailed by a goal halfway through. With 10 minutes remaining in the opening stanza, Durham found a seam and broke in alone against Carson keeper ZaReah Smith, only to be thwarted. Then in the final 15 seconds, Smith repelled a close-range blast from the left side by Mariah Hill, but failed to control the rebound. It caromed loose in front to Maddie Campeau, who popped a doorstep shot off the crossbar.
“A very scary moment,” said Carson defender Lani Isley. “But it kept us on our toes.”
Durham tied the score with 27:07 remaining in regulation when teammate Erin Shaver pounced on a short punt by Smith and fed a pass to Durham, who bounced a 12-yard shot into the net.
“She’s coming off a torn ACL in the fall,” Wingate said of Durham, who played only her third match of the spring. “For her to score both of our goals is fantastic. It shows her impact on the team.”
Carson was outshot 16-8 and seemed to play far more defense than offense. The burden fell on senior fullback Sarah Christy — who marked Shaver, South’s dangerous 18-goal scorer — and Isley, who cramped up in both halves. In fact, Isley came off the field after dropping to the turf 3:14 remaining in the second OT. She remained sidelined for 41 seconds, returning after Durham settled a pass from Tae Brown and punched a shot past Smith.
“We needed Lani back there,” said Christy. “You put her anywhere and she’ll play her heart out.”
Isley was being treated on the sideline, but had a front-row view of the winning goal.
“It looked like they got the ball right in front,” she said. “And we were slow to step on it.”
“It was a wonky, a crazy pass that came through,” added Christy. “We just didn’t get it.”
The loss did not mathematically eliminate Carson from title contention, but it likely will earn a No. 2 seed out of the NPC in next week’s 3A state playoffs. The Cougars host West Rowan tonight and close the regular-season at South Iredell on Thursday.
“This could cost us the title,” Isley said afterward. “It depends on how we play them in the second game. It’s just something we have to come back from.”
And likely will, according to West.
“If we finish out against West Rowan, we’ll solidify second place,” she said. “Then we’ll have nothing to lose going in to Thursday.”
NOTES: Durham’s goals were her first of the season. … South Iredell plays at North Iredell today. … Smith finished with nine saves for Carson. Sotelo’s goal was her sixth. … The Cougars ripped West Rowan, 7-0, when the team’s met on April 5. Three of Carson’s four losses have been by one goal.
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