Middle Creek defeats Cardinal Gibbons to clinch berth in 4A title game
Posted May 17
Apex, N.C. — Middle Creek punched its ticket to the 2017 N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state tile game after defeating defending champion Cardinal Gibbons, 14-8, Tuesday evening in Apex.
The Mustangs will make their first state tile appearance in program history, where they will meet west regional champion Lake Norman.
Cardinal Gibbons defeated Lake Norman, 14-8, in the 2016 NCHSAA 4A championship game.
“’I’m just proud of this group; they’ve worked so hard all year,” said Middle Creek head coach Nick Holota. “They’ve put in the time, and I think they’re a good group of student-athletes, and they represent their school the right way."
Cardinal Gibbons scored the first goal of the contest, but the lead – its only of the game – was short lived.
Middle Creek scored nearly a minute following the Crusaders’ opening tally and outscored Cardinal Gibbons 4-3 over the final 18:30 in the first half to take a one-goal lead into halftime.
Like the first stanza, Cardinal Gibbons scored the first goal, which tied the contest at 5-5, but the Mustangs found the back of the net next for the all-crucial – and top-play worthy – go-ahead goal.
Middle Creek senior Jared Medwar fed a behind-the-back pass to fellow senior Tanner Patrick on a two-on-one, which Patrick finished on a behind-the-back shot past the Crusaders sophomore goalie Riley Myer.
“I tell you what, that’s a huge play,” Holota said. “That’s got to go in to SportsCenter. In that moment and in that situation, that’s just two guys playing ball, being loose and having fun.
“There’s a time in a game where someone has to make a play, and I think that was it. I thought that was a terrific effort on both their parts.”
Medwar somehow squeaked the ball past Myer 10 seconds later for what seemed to be a back-breaking goal to give the Mustangs a two-goal lead.
Middle Creek’s back-to-back goals ripped momentum away from Cardinal Gibbons, which spurned a 3-1 run over the final 6:42 of play in the third quarter.
As has been the case all season, when the Mustangs start scoring, it comes it bunches.
Mustangs senior Owen Caputo capped his hat trick on the first goal of the final frame, leading to a 4-2 fourth quarter run. Caputo scored three goals and tallied one assist for a game-high four points.
Cardinal Gibbons scored consecutive goals nearly two minutes apart to cut its deficit to four goals, but Middle Creek found the back of the net twice in the final four minutes to push its lead to a game-high six goals.
Middle Creek senior Charlie Doetzer, sophomore Jake Caputo, Medwar and Patrick all finished with two goals apiece.
Crusaders senior Anthony Digirolamo also finished tied for a game-high three goals for the Crusaders’ lone hat trick of the contest.
Cardinal Gibbons finishes the season 15-5 overall and 6-0 in PAC 6 Conference contests. The Crusaders’ state championship streak will end at three after claiming the 4A title last season and two-straight 1A/2A/3A state championships in 2014 and 2015.
“For any class on our team, this is the first time that they haven’t won their last game of the season. I know what that feels like,” said Cardinal Gibbons head coach Alex Buckley. “I told them at the beginning of the season that nobody here knows what that feels like. That is serious motivation when you know what that feeling is … I just know that coming back we’ll probably have a bit of an edge next year knowing what this feels like.”
Middle Creek (21-0, 16-0) will take on Lake Norman (19-4, 4-0) in the NCHSAA 4A state title game on either Friday or Saturday at the WakeMed Soccer Complex in Cary.