RALEIGH — The Cardinal Gibbons boys’ soccer team started the season off with two tough losses.
The 2012 N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A East runner-up lost its first two games by one goal each, but got its first win Tuesday, 3-0, against Ravenscroft.
“Winning always helps, but the importance of this was we had taken steps in the right direction,” said coach Tim Healy. “We went from having an OK game Saturday (a 4-3 loss to Garner) with a lot of mistakes, to having a really good game last night (a 2-1 overtime loss to Sanderson). We didn’t come out on top and for those guys to rebound and be able to play was a good thing.”
Healy and Ravenscroft coach Alix Charles both agreed the annual rivalry game between the two schools was a bit less emotional this year, as each squad had spent a good deal of emotion in the days before.
Ravenscroft spent the weekend hosting its annual invitational tournament, which the Ravens won for the first time since 1986 after not making the finals since 2004.
The tournament win was big, but perhaps a bit of a distraction for the young Ravens team that lost 17 seniors from last year’s team.
“I didn’t expect us to do as well tonight because you win a big tournament and everybody is up and we come in and play a very strong Gibbons team, so I think that got the best of us for a little bit,” Charles said. “Not to take anything away from Gibbons, but that’s what you expect from a young team. ... but I’m hoping we can recover.”
Cardinal Gibbons controlled the possession from the beginning of play.
Gibbons senior midfielder Cam Steele converted a penalty kick in the 35th minute to take a one-goal lead into the half and fired in another shot in the 73rd. Senior forward Matthew Springer added a third goal less than a minute later to seal the win over Ravenscroft.
Steele and defender Chase Rhode are expected to be key players and steady forces for the Crusaders this year, Healy said.
“Where we lost a lot (from last season) was up top,” Healy said. “We lost a lot up top from seniors who graduated, and we lost (All-America forward) Ade Taiwo (to an ACL injury), so we went from being very dynamic to being very solid with the potential.”
Steele said that while Taiwo’s injury leaves a void in the team, all of the players are stepping up to fill his shoes, and Tuesday’s win was a step in the right direction.
“It’s big for us as a team, because it’s a long season and it’s a process about getting everyone on the same page because our ultimate goal is to do the best we can and make it to the state championship game,” Steele said. “Today was a big day for us because we came together and we played together and we got the win.”