CARY — Green Hope and Jordan’s boys’ soccer programs mirror each other in more ways than sharing the Falcons’ nickname. They’re among the most prestigious in the state, having combined to play in the past four N.C. 4A championships and win the past three.
In all four years, they have faced each other in the playoffs – either in the third or fourth round – in what feels more like a state semifinal.
Wednesday night, they showed another likeness – their respective strengths in the 2013 season.
Green Hope (5-0), the two-time reigning 4A state champ and News & Observer No. 1, won 1-0 against No. 6 Jordan (4-2-1).
From the holding midfielder on back through the rest of the defense, both Falcons teams proved difficult to score on.
“It’s absolutely one of our strengths,” said first-year Green Hope coach Michael Hoy. “The organization that (center backs) Sam Rauf and Josh Cornell and (defensive midfielder) Owen Jeffs bring is phenomenal, and that’s continuing to get better. When there are mistakes, when there are slip-ups, they fight super hard to get it back.”
Jordan has been used to grinding out games this year. The only two goals conceded in its seven games have been an own goal and a penalty kick.
Jordan coach Don Jones credits center backs David Yeyeodu and Michael Lawson.
“You could go three games and not really notice them because they just do things right. And they’re tough men,” Jones said. “And then with Jake (Dressman), our defensive mid in front of them, it’s a tough trio.”
Green Hope scored in the seventh minute when Zack Compton’s cross across the mouth of the goal deflected off a Jordan defender and into the net.
Green Hope’s shutout was its fourth of the year, but this was the first time it had won in a game where both teams had similar possession.
Senior goalkeeper Sam Bissett called it exciting – he saw more action in his half of the field than in the previous four games.
“I’m sure we’ll have to grind out many, many more. We’re always going against stiff competition,” Hoy said.
At times, Green Hope looked the same as last year. The forwards pressured at every opportunity, the midfielders either distributed or dispossessed – depending on their role – from box-to-box and the back line was a brick wall.
But despite the likenesses in themselves from last season, Green Hope’s players want to carve their own identity and get away from the expectations that come with being back-to-back champions.
Green Hope has now won its past 13 games dating to last season, when it went 24-2.
“We view ourselves as Green Hope,” said captain Sam Rauf, emphasizing that the team carries on the program name more so than last year’s accomplishments. “And that has a different identity every year. … We keep our tradition in behind and we try to go forward with a different group of guys every year.”
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps