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English leads Vikings to the fourth round, 1-0

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D.H. Conley's Jenna Rupp, left, and Chapel Hill's Holly Heizer fight for the ball during a game on May 15, 2019. (Molly Urbina/The Daily Reflector)

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Planning, preparation and strategy were the keys for the top-seeded D.H. Conley girls soccer team Wednesday evening, as the Vikings defeated ninth-seeded Chapel Hill, 1-0, to advance to the 3-A East bracket’s fourth round 

It was Gabby Kirkman who broke through mid-way through the second half and knocked in a header off a volley from Jenna Rupp with 26 minutes to go.

Rupp, who had been pushing through the Tigers’ defense got the volley up into the middle of the box, where Kirkman jumped just high enough to get over her defender and knock the ball into the back of the net.

The drama started much earlier in the game, as DHC struggled to hold off a fast-paced attack from the Tigers, quickly losing possession whenever the Vikings managed to possess the ball. After the opening 10 minutes, the squad jumped into its usual groove, including stellar saves from goalkeeper Maeve English. 

Of her many vital stops, the most important block English made came just before the halftime horn. 

Chapel Hill forward and Vanderbilt commit Alex Kerr, who had been at the forefront of the Tigers attack all night, was awarded a penalty kick, leaving spectators on both sides holding their breath. The situation didn’t bother English, however, as she was reminded of trends picked up from film study earlier in the week.

“On Monday we got together as a team and reviewed everything about this team,” English said. “We looked at everything they had done in the past. We did our homework on this girl (Kerr) and figured out that every penalty kick that she’s taken this season she’s gone to my right, or the left side of the goal. So when I realized she was taking it I had an idea of which way I wanted to go.” 

After blocking the shot and watching the ball roll out of play, English’s teammates swarmed the net to provide congratulations and energy for her impressive stop. English herself then went toward the Conley grandstands waving her arms, yelling as the intensity and adrenaline of the moment set in.

“Maeve is a key player on our team,” Conley head coach Maren Carbajal said. “We’ve enjoyed having her this season and she did her homework. We all did our homework through the week and it paid off.”

The Vikings knew Chapel Hill would come out playing with a fast pace, looking to drop the ball on the foot of Kerr. While she did get shots on goal, English and the rest of the defense had her figured out for most of the game. 

“We knew we had to come out strong from the beginning,” Carbajal said. “I was trying to get the girls fired up from the first whistle and get them moving through the motions and get the chances up front. (Chapel Hill) play with a lot of high pressure, so we wanted to do the exact same thing.” 

Conley will now begin their preparation for its fourth round opponent, fifth-seed Clayton, on Tuesday. 

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.

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