CARY — Green Hope’s 5-0 victory over Fuquay-Varina was decided by the time goalie Sam Bissett received a standing ovation from the Falcons’ student section in Saturday’s second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association state playoffs.
Of all the scenarios Bissett had run through his mind while preparing for a third match with Southwest Wake Athletic Conference rival Fuquay-Varina, this was not one of them. Not after Green Hope escaped with a 3-1 win in September and a 2-1 victory in October over the Bengals.
“Fuqay is a great team with some of the best players in the conference,” Bissett said. “I knew I had to bring my best game against them.”
The Davidson-bound Bissett did just that in the first half. The Falcons were clinging to a 1-0 lead when he made three spectacular saves among his 15 for the night.
Green Hope took a 1-0 lead five minutes before intermission when Sam Rauf scored on a header with an assist from Jon Giacona.
The floodgates opened 10 minutes into the second half following the second yellow card of Fuquay-Varina’s Keith Gorman. The chain of events began when Green Hope’s Yuka Koyama was tackled from behind on a breakaway by a player other than Gorman.
After discussion with the officials, Gorman was out of the game with his second yellow card.
Green Hope’s MacLean Holbrook scored on the free kick into the left corner of the net for a 2-0 lead.
With Fuquay playing a man down, Zack Compton converted a header on an assist from Holbrook and then scored again with 10 minutes remaining. With a Bengal defender casually chasing down a ball knocked toward his goal, Compton hustled up behind, tipped the ball and then shot and scored.
The game ended with tension as one of the two Cary police officers watching from the Green Hope sideline interrupted play. He walked slowly across the middle of the field to the Fuquay sideline.
“Shake hands and don’t say anything,” Green Hope coach Michael Hoy cautioned his players as the final seconds ticked off. “Gentlemen, make sure we’re sportsmanlike.”
The two officers were stationed at midfield on both sides of post-game handshake line.
Green Hope was relieved with the win, but Bissett reminded them there is much more work to be done in defense of their state title.
“We’re only a third of the way through,” he said. “The next game is always the most important one.”
Green Hope will host Millbrook at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the third round.