Published: Sep 07, 2012 01:18 PM
Modified: Sep 07, 2012 01:19 PM
CARY - It isn’t the most-talked about part of the state’s No. 1 boys’ soccer team. Green Hope’s multiple attacking midfielders and forwards usually get the glory that comes with scoring goals, and some of the attention remains on a first-year coach keeping the defending 4A champs rolling this season.
But without some last-ditch defending by Green Hope’s back line on Wednesday night, the Falcons wouldn’t have remained unbeaten on the year.
Green Hope, ranked No. 1 by the News & Observer among area soccer teams, defeated No. 8 Apex 2-1 in Tri-9 Conference action.
The visiting Cougars tested Green Hope, but some attacks were thwarted in the final third by defenders Sam Rauf and Tyler Hawley.
“I’ve got confidence in the back four. I think we defend well,” said Green Hope coach Richard Huxford. “Other than a few of the throw-ins and corners, I didn’t feel like we were under a lot of pressure.”
But the Falcons (6-0, 3-0) dodged several bullets. Apex hit the post three times during the match and with less than 45 seconds remaining, a Cougar chested wide a rebound that appeared to be a sure-fire tying goal.
“We all stepped up at big times and didn’t let them finish, which was good. A lot of goal-line clearances,” Hawley said. “We scrambled a bit, but we managed to keep it out.”
Green Hope starting goalkeeper Sam Bissett, a junior, kept a clean sheet in the first half. The Falcons made it 1-0 after the eighth minute. Josh Kennedy freed himself down the left side and sent in a cross that was back-heeled by Silfo Guzman to the back post where Zach Doernberg tapped it in.
With Santiago Ortiz in as the second-half goalkeeper for Green Hope, Apex (5-2, 3-1) capitalized on a counter in the 47th minute. A long ball landed near Apex senior Matt Bailey, who fought off a defender. Ortiz dove in and missed just as Bailey won back the ball and poked a tying goal into an open net.
“Overall, the intensity level rose dramatically after we scored,” said Apex coach Kevin Todd. “And it sustained itself, for the most part.”
But Green Hope found its winner in the 71st.
The Falcons’ MacLean Holbrook fired a cross that connected with the head of Josh Kennedy, and the Falcons were up 2-1.
“I had a perfect chance to chip it in, and luckily Josh was on,” Holbrook said. “This type of win is great for us.
“We’ve got a find a way to win, even if it’s not our best game.”