The last two state championships for Carrboro were filled with drama, but on Saturday, when the Jaguars won their third in a row, it will filled with stars.
Laura Sparling, Evie Joseph and Miah Araba scored goals, while Grace Nanney kept West Stokes scoreless as Carrboro won 3-0 at N.C. State’s Dail Soccer Complex for the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A championship.
It was the third straight title for Carrboro, which has 10 seniors, and the fourth banner in school history.
Carrboro coach Jared Drexler said he could not compare this title to the other two, other than saying he liked having a little less drama.
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“The last two years we went to overtime, and it was really nerve-racking,” Drexler said. “This time we were able to get it done in regular time. We scored a couple of goals early and got another one late and so I was able to take a couple of deep breaths. I prefer it that way.”
Nanney, who made two big diving saves before Carrboro scored to keep West Stokes off the board and then came up with another after the Jaguars had built a 2-0 lead in the first half, earned MVP honors for her performance.
“It’s better than my wildest dreams,” Nanney said. “I never, ever expected this. It’s insane. I don’t have words. I started to cry. I don’t normally cry. If you see me cry, it means a lot to me. I guess that’s the best way to explain it.”
Nanney finished with five saves.
Offensively, Carrboro got goals three minutes apart to take control of the game.
The first came with 24:07 left in the first half as senior Sparling chipped in a shot that bounced off Araba’s head. The goal was set up by a corner kick from Elizabeth Cato .
“It’s surreal to win again,” Sparling said. “We put so much work in during the season and for us to get the positive result like this is the best feeling in the world.”
Three minutes later, Joseph scored on a header that was served up from the right side by Katie Knotek, who herself also played an impressive game from her spot on Carrboro’s right flank.
Joseph complimented Knotek’s accuracy for leading to her goal. She directed the ball high and it glanced off the cross bar and down into the net to give the Jaguars their 2-0 lead.
“Honestly, Katie has the best crosses,” Joseph said. “I saw it coming in, and I said ‘This is my chance.’ You don’t get many chances in state championship games. I had to get a head on it. I wasn’t sure it was going in, but I’m glad it did.”
Araba scored Carrboro’s final goal to make it 3-0 on a free kick from just outside the penalty area after a teammate was fouled. She blasted a shot over and around West Stokes’ wall to the far post that goalkeeper Lizzy Luzzi could not touch.
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Carrboro (21-1-1) finished its season with 19 consecutive wins thanks in part to its defense. The Jaguars finished the season by surrendering only seven goals and getting 19 shutouts.
Carrboro became the fourth school to win three straight titles, joining Greensboro’s Page High (1986-88), Broughton (1998-2001) and Jacksonville’s White Oak High (2006-09). The Jaguars will set their sights on matching Broughton and White Oak, which both won four straight titles.
West Stokes (24-4-1) was the last team to win the 2A title in 2014 before Carrboro’s run began.