Providence Day was trailing Charlotte Latin 3-1 with 15½ minutes left in Saturday’s girls’ state championship soccer match.
The Chargers had Charlotte Latin just where they wanted them.
For the second time this year, the battle between the state’s top two girls’ soccer teams was settled with a late flurry by Providence Day.
This time, the Chargers scored three times in the final 13:21 and beat the Hawks 4-3 for the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association’s 4A crown.
It capped a 19-0 season for Providence Day, ranked No. 1 in the state by Maxpreps. Charlotte Latin, the No. 2-ranked team, finished 16-3. Each of those losses was to the Chargers, No. 3 nationally in MaxPreps’ poll. Charlotte Latin is No. 9 nationally.
On April 27, Providence Day scored three times in the final 10 minutes of a 5-2 victory at Charlotte Latin.
Saturday’s victory looked similar.
The Chargers were frustrated for the first 67 minutes of Saturday’s match by the Hawks’ game plan. Coach Lee Horton’s team packed players into the defensive end, trying to suffocate the Providence Day attack and then scoring on counter plays.
It’s not that the Chargers didn’t threaten.
Over the opening 65 minutes of the match, Providence Day outshot the Hawks 18-3. All three of Charlotte Latin’s shots were goals. Only one of Providence Day’s attempts found the net.
But the tide turned after Brooke Bellavia took advantage of a Charger defensive breakdown and scored with 15:36 remaining for a 3-1 Charlotte Latin lead.
The Chargers almost scored a minute later, when Ava Hellner drilled a long shot that Hawks’ goalkeeper Hope Morrow stopped.
Then with 13:21 left, Kennedy Jones scored on a rebound, after Katerina Peroulas’ original attempt had bounced off the post.
Three minutes later, a pass from Peroulas set up Morgan Hart, who beat Morrow with a blistering shot and tied the match.
The game-winner came with 2:40 remaining. Maggie Carabell took a pass from Hellner, dribbled around two defenders, and then cut loose with a high, looping shot. The ball sailed over Morrow’s head and bounced into the left side of the net.
Three who mattered
Katerina Peroulas, Providence Day: A senior who is a Pennsylvania University commit, Peroulas had three assists in her final game with the Chargers. She was a huge part of her team’s second-half surge.
Morgan Hart, Providence Day: Hart, a senior and a Georgia commit, scored the tying goal and had five shots in the contest.
Hope Morrow, Charlotte Latin: The Hawks’ senior goalkeeper was under pressure throughout the game. She made nine saves, frustrating Providence Day until the closing minutes.
▪ The championship was Providence Day’s second in a row. The Chargers won in 2019, beating Charlotte Latin 3-1 and snapping the Hawks’ four-year reign in Class 4A. There was no state tournament last spring, due to COVID-19.
▪ Katerina Peroulas’ three assists gave her a season total of 28 goals and 28 assists. Her 84 points were tops on the team. Kennedy Jones finished with 28 goals, and Morgan Hart with 21.
▪ The three goals allowed by Providence Day on Saturday were the most the Chargers have given up in a match this season. They outscored opponents 119-11.
▪ Providence Day entered the match ranked No. 2 nationally by United Soccer Coaches.
Steve Lyttle on Twitter: @slyttle