The Tar Heels continued their mastery of its southern neighbors as North Carolina swept the Sandlappers 3-1 and 4-3 in the girls and boys matches, respectively, at Cardinal Gibbons High School in the 10th annual Clash of the Carolinas.
The boys game began just like the 2015 outing when North Carolina rolled to the series’ largest margin of victory, 7-0, as the Tar Heels scored on their first three shots.
South Meck’s Marco Garcia-Rodriguez scored on a free kick from 24 yards away after the Tar Heels were fouled in the fifth minute. Dixon’s Carter Phillipsextended the lead to 2-0 in the 11th minute and Statesville’s Jason Rosales pushed the score line to 3-0 one minute later.
Though down and shell-shocked, the Sandlappers battled back as Connor Deany of River Bluff slotted home a nice setup by Nation Ford’s Kevin Garces on 17 minutes. Moments later, Airport’s Jeremy Cheeks saw home a double-assist on an indirect kick that turned the momentum for the Sandlappers. However, a controversial goal by Phillips before halftime proved to be the difference.
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As a shot by Garces inside the Tar Heels’ box apparently hit a defender’s hand and shouts of “hand ball” echoed, the referee allowed play to continue and the counter-attack resulted in a deflected shot that hit the post and toed the line. The stadium-side assistant referee raised his flag and signaled goal. Despite the commotion, the goal stood and N.C. led 4-2 at intermission. SC pulled within one in the 55th minute when River Bluff’s Ben Freiburger knocked in a loose ball. The Tar Heels withstood the Sandlappers’ rally and North Carolina reeled off its sixth consecutive win. N.C. goalkeeper Erick Cortez-Martinez and S.C.’s Garces earned MVP honors.
In the girls match, North Carolina opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Christina Shimshock of A.C. Reynolds took a shot from 15 yards away that deflected past S.C. goalkeeper Lauren Karinshak of Wando who collected eight saves on 17 Tar Heel shots in the contest. Fuquay-Varina’s Megan Greene notched a goal in the 50th minute and then Abby Givens, the N.C. Most Valuable Player, tallied the third score on an assist from Baley Edwards of E.A. Laney in the 67th minute. South Carolina avoided the shutout when Fort Dorchester’s Caitlyn Reilly, who also earned MVP honors for the Sandlappers, registered a goal one minute from time. South Carolina’s lone victory came in 2008.
This was the first time that North Carolina hosted the event which has been held at Daniel Island since 2007. NC now leads the girls’ series 7-1-2 and 6-1-3 in the boys’ ledger.