Through three different head coaches, the Cedar Ridge men’s soccer team has managed to beat its crosstown rival in three of their last four meetings.
On Wednesday night, the Red Wolves (2-7, 1-1 in the Central Carolina Conference) got two goals each from Chris Mendez and senior Jorge Salazar to defeat Orange 4-1 at Red Wolves Stadium.
It was the first Central Carolina Conference win for new Cedar Ridge men’s soccer coach Chauncey Brummell, who replaced Andrew Berg over the summer. While it’s always great to do it against your crosstown rival, it was satisfaction delayed for the Red Wolves and Brummell, in particular.
Without any prompting, each Cedar Ridge player to a man will tell you the team’s first conference win should have been last Monday night against Northwood. The Red Wolves were tied with the Chargers 1-1 in Pittsboro, but the Chargers’ scored the game-winning goal with two minutes remaining in regulation.
Justin Murillo scored the only goal for Cedar Ridge against Northwood.
“I think heart made the difference tonight,” Brummell said. “I think the kids had a lot of determination tonight. They’re a tight-knit, close group. I think they wanted to get that win tonight after we fell short on Monday night.”
Though the scoreline may indicate otherwise, Orange (3-7, 0-3) had numerous opportunities to get the equalizing goal throughout the second half. Trailing 2-0 at halftime, Orange’s Cooper Zinn took an entry pass from midfielder Dylan Silverman and fired the ball into the lower left corner for the Panthers’ first tally with 18:56 remaining.
Orange continued the pressure after Zinn’s goal. The turning point came when Orange’s Konnor Johnson sent a pretty ball into the box for Darius Corbett, who was open at the penalty spot. Cedar Ridge goalkeeper Benjamin Weaver raced out of the net to block Corbett’s shot. The subsequent corner kick was headed wide by Johnson with 14:04 remaining.
“Ben has shown up for us time and time again this year,” Brummell said. “He’s made some really big, key saves for us. He’s a talented goalkeeper. I think that save just put a reassurance how bad the boys really wanted this game. He came through for us.”
Orange’s Jasper Tyll let loose with another attempt from 17 yards that missed wide, which was the Panthers’ last serious attempt to tie. With 7:59 remaining, Salazar led a charge from the left flank to the top of the box. Orange was issued a yellow card for a handball in the box, leading to a penalty that Salazar tucked firmly into the bottom right corner for an insurance goal.
Mendez would add his second goal after he unleashed a shot chest high that rebounded off Orange goalkeeper Connor McMurtry. Mendez headed the loose ball over McMurtry to put the Red Wolves ahead 4-1.
Cedar Ridge led 2-0 at halftime. With 20:43 remaining in the first half, senior Alex Jackan found Salazar for a chip shot that lofted into the bottom of the net for the opening goal. Nine minutes later, Jesus Quirez-Rivera passed across the penalty area to Mendez, who uncorked a rocket in from nine yards away.
“I would like to build up the program and bring it back to where it once was,” said Brummell. “Historically, Cedar Ridge has had some great players come through. They were a dominant team in 2A. I want to get them back where they once were. This is a new conference for us and we’ve got a good group of kids.”
Orange will go for its first Central Carolina Conference win against Person tonight (Monday) in Hillsborough. Cedar Ridge will attempt to win consecutive games for the first time this year when they face Eastern Alamance tonight in Mebane.