Fuquay-Varina outduels Leesville Road in penalty kicks to advance to state championship

Raleigh, N.C. — The Eastern regional final of the N.C. High School Athletics Association 4A girls‘ soccer tournament was a game that simply would not end.

That was until it finally did, when Fuquay-Varina senior midfielder Carissa Olivares drilled the Bengals‘ seventh consecutive penalty kick into the back of the twine to end this game almost three hours after it first kicked off.

Two forty-minute halves of regulation, two 10-minute halves of extra time, and two five-minute halves of golden goal were not enough to decide things between the Fuquay-Varina Bengals (16-4-2, 8-1-1) and the Leesville Road Pride (20-2-1, 11-1). Nor were the prescribed first five rounds of penalty kicks.

The Pride came out from the opening kick playing with a purpose, dominating possession and chances throughout the early portion of the game.

That changed when the opportunistic Bengals converted on a corner kick when Trinity Davis booted one that took either an inadvertent deflection or a fortuitous bounce and just barely edged across the goal line before Leesville Road was able to boot the ball out.

Leesville Road, now down a goal, did not appear to be fazed by their misfortune, as they got right to work on trying to find an equalizer. They generated chances in the run of play, drew free kicks, and earned corners. While they had plenty of opportunities, the Bengal defense along with goalkeeper Kristen Davis stood tall, taking their 1-0 lead into the halftime break.

After the halftime break, the Pride kept pushing. All of their pressure culminated in senior Jordin Mosley unleashing a booming shot from just inside the box while being challenged by two defenders that careened off the crossbar. The rebound found its way to Reagan Norvell, who finessed the ball past the goalkeeper and just over the line.

“They answered every call,” Leesville Road head coach Paul Dinkenor said of his team‘s resiliency when faced with deficits twice. “I can‘t fault my girls in any way. We played well. We practiced superbly. They‘re a great group to be with.”

Fuquay-Varina wasted no time regaining its lead. Just minutes after the Pride finally drew even, the Bengals scored off of a throw-in when Grace Naylor sent a through ball all the way into the box where sophomore Katelyn Laux beat her defender to the ball in the air and sent a header past the goalkeeper and into the net.

Once again a hard-earned Bengal lead was short-lived due to a strange turn of events. After picking up the ball in the box, Davis was called for a penalty when she tripped an oncoming Pride attacker whose momentum carried her by her after she had gone for the ball.

The end result of the play was a yellow card for Davis, meaning she had to leave the field while backup goalkeeper Mikaela Olaya was tasked with the unenviable assignment of coming off the bench cold to face a penalty kick. Mosley was able to get the ball past Olaya, and the game was once again tied at two.

The duration of the regulation period, both extra periods, and both golden goal periods went by without a decisive score being tallied, and the game pressed on into penalty kicks.

Things were looking great for Leesville Road when they converted their first kick, stopped the Bengals‘ first attempt, and scored once again on their second to open the penalty kick round, but Fuquay-Varina would not miss again. The seven consecutive makes by the Bengals combined with the Pride hitting the goalpost with a chance to walk-off in the fifth round and a crucial stop from Davis made way for Olivares‘s decisive blow.

As the celebration ensued on the field, an unbeaten Myers Park team had just begun celebrating a regional victory of their own, as they knocked off Pinecrest 2-1 to capture the Western Regional championship.

On Saturday at N.C. State University, the Bengals will square off with Myers Park for a chance to capture their first ever 4A state championship in girls‘ soccer.