RALEIGH — The Cardinal Gibbons and Chapel Hill girls soccer teams have battled for 160 minutes in two matches while splitting two 1-0 decisions that were more tests of survival than anything else.
Both defensive struggles were decided by innocent slips, but this time Lady Luck was on Cardinal Gibbons’ side as the Crusaders forced a tie for first place in the Big Eight 3A Conference standings with a 1-0 victory Wednesday night at Cardinal Gibbons.
When Chapel Hill won 1-0 last month, a Gibbons defender slipped on the wet turf to allow a decisive goal on a breakaway.
This time Cardinal Gibbons benefited from a slip when Chapel Hill’s goalie went up for a save on a shot by Angela Hiltbrunner that slid through her hands and rolled into the net behind her.
“Madison Vrscak threw it in to me and I saw the goal was open,” Hiltbrunner said. “I thought I might as well take it. When she got two hands on it, I thought, ‘Better luck next time.’ But when I saw it slip through her fingers, I fell to my knees.”
Cardinal Gibbons (17-1-2) handed Chapel Hill (16-1) its first loss of the season as both teams are now 12-1 in Big Eight play and favored to win their Thursday regular-season finales. Normally they would have a playoff to decide the title, but their next matches are their third of the week; three games in a week is the maximum allowed by NCHSAA rules.
“I thought both games were high school girls soccer at its best,” Chapel Hill coach Ron Benson said. “No one was bored in these games. The play was up-and-down the field, and the Cardinal Gibbons’ goalie (Haley Glaser) played her heart out.”
Only one minute before Cardinals Gibbons scored, Glaser nearly spoiled her spectacular night of eight saves when she also allowed a ball to slip through her hands. But the ball lacked the momentum to reach the net. She also benefited from Morgan Brandewie shielding a Chapel Hill player from reaching the ball before Glaser recovered and grabbed it.
Glaser compared the mental lapse on such a slip to a football player dropping a ball when he starts running with it before securing the catch.
“It’s so hard to see that happen to any goalie,” Glaser said.
Glaser’s last save was in the final minute when she charged out of the net to make a two-handed save in the open field.
“I think this is the most shots I’ve had to save,” Glaser said. “I was able to use what I’ve improved on this year. I’m getting my full body across the goal and using two hands.”