CARY — A young Cary boys’ soccer team that suffered through an eight-game losing streak grew up Wednesday night with a 2-1 win against Middle Creek at Cooper Field.
The Imps (2-9-1, 1-5) won their first Southwest Wake Athletic Conference match and only the second overall of the year by recovering from a 1-0 deficit that was the result of an own goal less than seven minutes into the match.
The Mustangs (5-7-0, 1-5) still led 1-0 at halftime and 52 minutes into the match until Cary scored twice on goals by junior Eruby Toledo de Jesus and sophomore Ignacio Rojas.
Toledo de Jesus’ goal at 52 minutes was a rocket into the left side of the net from 15 yards out. At 60 minutes, Rojas tapped in a shot with his left foot after a shot with his right bounced back to him in front of the goalie. The goal was set up by a cross from freshman Quinn Dunphy.
“You have to follow the play,” Rojas said. “I managed to be in the right place at the right time.”
What worked: In a word, communication. Cary coach Mike Dunphy explained his players are beginning to communicate better as they gain experience and trust.
“We have a lot better communication,” Rojas said. “We put a lot of pressure on them and were moving the ball. I’ve been trying my best, but this was one of the better games. This was one of our best games as a team.”
Turning point: Ironically, Cary’s own goal sparked the Imps to play hard.
“I’m proud of the way we responded,” Dunphy said. “In previous matches, we didn’t respond when things went wrong. But the kids kept playing this time. We kept pushing and kept getting chances. The boys played well.”
Out of bounds: Cary junior goalkeeper Johannes Dietrich might have felt like climbing into a hole after the own goal, but he wasn’t trying to hide his identity by wearing No. 15 instead of his usual No. 1, as he’s listed on the roster.
“Middle Creek was wearing black, so I couldn’t wear my black jersey,” Dietrich said. “I had to wear this one instead.”
Dietrich still felt frustrated by the own goal despite the victory. After the teams shook hands, he pivoted back toward the Cary bench, spotted someone’s shin pads lying on the turf and booted them with his head down.
“An own goal is worse than a regular goal,” Dietrich said.
But Dietrich was unnecessarily hard on himself. He saved one shot on goal in the first half when he tipped the ball just above eye level so it flew over the top of the net.
On a Middle Creek free kick in the 71st minute, the ball floated into a crowd of Middle Creek and Cary players toward the middle of the net. Dietrich charged forward and leaped as he punched the ball with both hands back up the field.
“You have to know when to go out,” Dietrich said. “You have to time it right or you’re leaving yourself open for a goal.”
Looking ahead: Dunphy hopes his young players developed confidence and experience from the comeback victory.
“We started the season with players who had limited varsity experience,” he said. “This league is about experience with teams like Apex and Green Hope. It’s one of the best leagues in the state. Our young players are learning how to compete against that experience of seniors.”