Orange Men’s Soccer

Orange Panther of the Week: Tyler Mann

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is senior soccer midfielder Tyler Mann. This season, Mann led the Panthers with 12 goals as the Panthers put together its most successful season since 2017. Mann came up strongest in several last-minute wins that helped Orange reach the state playoffs. Against Northwood, he scored a goal in his final game in Hillsborough, a 4-2 win over Eastern Alamance in overtime. Against Northwood, Mann added another goal as the Panthers scored two goals in the final five minutes to beat the Chargers 3-2 in Pittsboro. This season, Mann scored two goals in a game four times, starting with a 4-3 victory over Northwood on September 21 in Hillsborough, a game where the Panthers scored the game-winning goal in the final five minutes. He also scored two goals against Southern Durham on September 23, a Spartans team that made the State Playoffs. Fittingly, Mann scored off a corner kick in his final game against J.H. Rose, Orange’s first state playoff game since 2017. Mann is one of 13 seniors who played under Coach Palmer Bowman in 2022. 

Orange men’s soccer makes state playoffs for the first time since 2017

The Orange men’s soccer team started its season with a 2-nil loss to Riverside on a mild August night at Linny Wrenn Stadium in Durham.

As indicated by the scoreline, it was a tepid showing offensively for Orange, whose best chance to score came on a penalty kick that was saved in the first half by Riverside goalkeeper John Ballard.

Offensively, that Orange team from two months ago bares little resemblance to the squad that is now in the state playoffs. Along the way, the ride through October has been filled with last minutes heroics that have paced the way for the Panthers’ first appearance in the state playoffs since 2017.

Orange, which finished third in the Central Carolina Conference, received a #21 seed and will face #12 seed J.H. Rose in Greenville on Halloween night. The field of 64 in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3A State Tournament was released on Friday afternoon.

Rose, who finished third in the 4A/3A Big East Conference, received a #12 seed. The Rampants ended the regular season on a five-game winning streak, including a victory over D.H. Conley, who tied with Jacksonville for the Big East Championship.

Orange started 1-5 and didn’t score multiple goals in a game until they defeated Cedar Ridge 3-1 on September 14 in the opening leg of the Hillsborough Derby. At that point, the offense picked up and the Panthers won five in a row, its longest winning streak in five years.

The Panthers’ run to the postseason hasn’t lacked for drama. On October 13, Orange stunned Chapel Hill 3-2 at Ron Benson Field. They played the final 20 minutes with only ten men. Junior Emmanuel Mil Cruz scored the game-winning goal with 35 seconds remaining after Cooper Zinn scored the equalizer off an assist from Darius Corbett.

The following game, the Panthers defeated Northwood 3-2 in Pittsboro after scoring two goals in the final 15 minutes. Dylan Silverman notched the game-winning goal with 1:32 remaining with a laser shot from 25 yards away. Tyler Mann, the leading scorer on the team, tied the game. Mil Cruz scored Orange’s opener.

Orange’s senior night against Eastern Alamance last Monday may have been the most memorable of all. In a 4-2 overtime win, Corbett scored two goals in his final game at Orange Soccer Field. Zinn and Mann also scored.

Corbett, a centerback, scored Orange’s first goals of the year on penalty kicks, including the game-winner in a 1-0 victory over Knightdale, their first win of the season. Mann leads Orange with eleven goals. Cooper Zinn has seven goals.

Corbett is paired as a centerback with senior Tucker Gaddy, who were instrumental in four shutout wins this season, along with goalkeeper Connor McMurtry.

The winner of J.H. Rose-Orange will face the winner of #5 Southern Nash vs. #28 Southern Wayne in the second round.

Orange’s inclusion in the field of 64 continued a strong showing for the Central Carolina Conference, home to the defending 3A State Champions Western Alamance. Five CCC teams made the state playoffs. Walter Williams, who defeated Orange 3-0 in the regular season finale on Wednesday, is the top-overall seed in the 3A East Region.

Western Alamance (#13 seed) will host Northern Nash in the opening round. Northwood (#22) will travel to Swansboro on Monday. Eastern Alamance will go to Croatan.

Mil Cruz scores in final minute as shorthanded Orange soccer stuns Chapel Hill 3-2

Since legendary English soccer manager Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, Manchester United hasn’t resembled the same team that won 13 Premier League championships in 20 years.

But they’re still Manchester United in England, and any win by a visiting club in Old Trafford Stadium is one worth savoring for years on end.

Closer to home, the Chapel Hill Tigers won back-to-back 3A State Championships in 2017 and 2018. This year with a younger team, they’re 7-6-3 and in 3rd place in the DAC-VII.

But they’re still Chapel Hill, a team that defeated Orange seven straight times going into Thursday night. The fact Orange went into Chapel Hill Soccer Stadium and came away with a 3-2 victory was memorable.

How they did it was incredible.

The Panthers played the final 25 minutes with only ten men after goalkeeper Connor McMurtry received a red card for diving after a loose ball on a breakaway, but hit a Chapel Hill player instead. At the time, Orange led 1-0, but the Tigers evened the match on the subsequent penalty kick. Minutes later, Chapel Hill took the lead.

It appeared the Tigers were headed towards its eighth straight win for the Panthers since they had an 11-on-10 man advantage. As backup goalkeeper Finn Kelly replaced McMurtry, Orange got the equalizing goal from Cooper Zinn to even the match 2-2 with 9:24 remaining. The goal was set up with senior centerback Darius Corbett played the ball from midfield to the left side of the field. Zinn ran down the flank and flicked it along the left post to even the game.

Kelly kept the match tied with some remarkable saves for the Panthers. With 35 seconds remaining, junior Emmanuel Del Cruz scored the game-winning goal in front of a stunned Tiger crowd. The Panthers would hold on for a 3-2 result, its third win in four days.

Del Cruz, in his first year on the varsity, earned his third goal of the season.

It was Orange’s first win over Chapel Hill in men’s soccer since September 20, 2017.

The victory is a huge boost for the Panthers hopes of reaching the 3A State Playoffs for the first time since 2016. Going into Thursday’s match, Orange was #22 in the 3A East Regional rankings by MaxPreps. They have risen four spots over the past week.

On Wednesday, the Panthers (9-8, 5-4 in the Central Carolina Conference) cruised to a 6-0 win over Person at Orange Soccer Park. Mann, who leads Orange with nine goals in 2022, notched two goals. It was his fourth brace of the season. Mann now has a four-game goal scoring streak.

Corbett added another goal for the Panthers. Ryker Stein, Mil Cruz, and senior Ivan Guzman all scored for the Panthers to complete a season sweep of the Rockets. Senior Dylan Silverman added an assist, as did sophomore Eben Petrides.

Orange will continue its pursuit of a birth in the 3A State Playoffs with a road trip to Northwood on Monday night in Pittsboro.

Orange’s Tyler Mann, Bryan Membreno & Eben Petrides discuss win over Cedar Ridge

The chances of the Orange men’s soccer team earning its first trip to the 3A State Playoffs got a major boost this week. On Thursday night, the Panthers stunned Chapel Hill 3-2 at Tiger Soccer Stadium. The Panthers trailed 2-1 and played the final 20 minutes without its starting goalkeeper after he received a red card. Playing with ten men, the Panthers got the game-tying goal from Cooper Mann. With 34 seconds remaining, Emmanuel Mil Cruz scored the game-winning goal as the Panthers defeated the Tigers for the first time since September 20, 2017. The Tigers had beaten Orange seven straight times. On Wednesday, the Panthers defeated Person 6-0 at Orange Soccer Field. Tyler Mann had two goals and three assists. Mil Cruz, Ivan Guzman and Ryker Stein each scored a goal. On Tuesday night, Orange won the Hillsborough Derby with a 4-1 win at Cedar Ridge, which is where this video was shot. Mann scored two goals, while Eben Petrides scored the first goal of his varsity career. Bryan Membreno scored the game-winning goal on a rocket from over 30 yards away. Orange is on a three-game winning streak and will face Northwood in Pittsboro on Monday night. 

Mann notches brace, Membreno game-winner to lead Orange over Red Wolves 4-1 in Hillsborough Derby

The free-flowing, shots from all angles melee that was the opening leg of the Hillsborough Derby between Orange and Cedar Ridge last month bore little resemblance to what unfolded on Monday night at Cedar Ridge Stadium.

The centerback tandems for each team largely dictated the pace of play and, in Cedar Ridge’s case, the scoring. But it was Orange senior Tyler Mann who factored in the most, scoring two goals in the second half to lead the Panthers past Cedar Ridge 4-1. It secured Orange’s first regular season sweep of its crosstown rivals since 2017.

“You have to give Cedar Ridge credit,” said Orange coach Palmer Bowman. “They were more physical than us and they wanted the ball more. They just had a couple of bounces not go their way, but they dominated the first half.”

Senior Issac Anderson notched the only Red Wolves goal with 16:21 remaining in the second half off a corner kick by Illiah Babchenko. Anderson, a centerback who shares the defensive backfield with sophomore Solomon Hernandez, helped the Red Wolves control the possession early. Orange didn’t get a shot off in the opening ten minutes.

“You have to remain positive,” said Cedar Ridge coach Chauncey Brummel following a lengthy postgame meeting with his team. “We let them know that the rest of the season is up to them. It’s up to them how we want to end this season. I think you just keep going. We have a lot of seniors on this team and I asked them to step up. We have to put this game behind us.”

Orange’s (7-8, 4-4 in the Central Carolina Conference) centerback duo of senior Darius Corbett and Tucker Gaddy broke up numerous Cedar Ridge scoring opportunities as both teams struggled to generate offense after kickoff. With 14:57 remaining in the first half, Orange’s Traver Bruhns intercepted a pass on Orange’s attacking end. Senior Cooper Wheelis found classmate Bryan Membreno, who unleashed a rocket from 28 yards away that curled into the upper right corner of the night past Cedar Ridge goalkeeper Erik Galunasnas for the opening goal.

Cedar Ridge (4-12-1, 2-7) had its best first half chance when Justin Murillo took a lead pass and was in a leg race with Corbett in an attempt to break away. Corbett beat Murillo to the ball and cleared it across the end line. On the subsequent corner kick, a header by Hernandez sailed over the crossbar.

“In the second half, we had more possession time,” Bowman said. “We’re fortunate to have Darius and Tucker. They give us great comfort back there.”

With 25:20 remaining in the second half, Cooper Zinn took a free kick 45 yards from net following a Cedar Ridge foul. Zinn arched a gorgeous ball to Mann, who sent a worm burner into the net for the first insurance goal.

After Anderson’s marker reduced Orange’s lead to 2-1, the Red Wolves had numerous chances to tie the game. Mendez locked up with Corbett in transition once again off a pass from Murillo, but Mendez was off balance and his shot went high.

On Orange’s final corner kick of the night, a ball sent In by senior Cooper Zinn skipped off the head of teammate Dylan Silverman away from net. Sophomore Eben Petrides, free off the left flank, pounced on the rebound and fired a line drive from 14 yards away for his first varsity goal with 19:45 remaining to increase the Panthers’ lead to 3-1.

Mann, who has a team-high seven goals this season, added his second goal off an assist from Zinn with 4:00 remaining.

Now Orange will spent the final two weeks of the regular season with its biggest games in six years, which was the last time they made the state playoffs. On Wednesday, the Panthers will host Person. Next Monday, they will commemorate Senior Night against Eastern Alamance.

Orange will go into the Person game with a MaxPreps ranking of #24 in the 3A East. 32 teams in the East Region will make the 3A State Playoffs.

“It’s not about me playing,” Bowman said. “It’s about these guys and just trying to get them to take advantage of the moment and enjoy the moment.”

Orange Panther of the Week: Connor McMurtry

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is senior goalkeeper Connor McMurtry. On September 23, McMurtry made some crucial saves as the Panthers defeated Southern Durham 5-3 at Spartans Stadium. With Orange leading 4-2 at halftime, McMurtry made four big diving saves to keep the Panthers ahead and ultimately preserve an important nonconference win against the leaders of the Northern Lakes Conference. Three nights later, McMurtry was in net as Orange defeated Graham 3-0. It was the Panthers fifth straight win, its longest winning streak since 2016. McMurtry was the winning goalkeeper in the Panthers 4-3 win over Northwood on September 21. At the beginning of the season, McMurtry had a clean sheet as the Panthers defeated Knightdale 1-0 at WakeMed Soccer Park for its first win of the season. Orange will enter a crucial week next week to face Cedar Ridge on Monday, followed by a home game against Person. Orange is currently ranked #26 in the MaxPreps 3A East Region, meaning they’re fighting for its first birth in the state playoffs since 2016. 

Stein scores game-winning goal as Orange men’s soccer downs Northwood 4-3

The Orange men’s soccer team will take its longest winning streak in five years into tonight’s match at Eastern Alamance.

In past years, the Panthers probably would have lost its game against Northwood. But not last Wednesday night.

After the Chargers had erased a two-goal lead in the span of 48 seconds, Ryker Stein chipped in a free kick from Cooper Zinn into the upper-left corner of the net with 9:48 remaining. Stein’s goal, his second of the season, would prove to be the game-winner as Orange defeated Northwood 4-3.

Immediately after scoring, Stein rushed over and slapped hands with the Truck Bed Rowdies, Orange’s home cheering section that backs its pickups to the front of the gates along the north end zone and enjoys the games standing on the beds of their trucks.

The Panthers ended a seven-game losing streak to the Chargers. It was Orange’s first win over Northwood since October 9, 2018.

“I think we’ve grown to be a bit more mentally tough since the start of the year,” said Orange coach Palmer Bowman. “I think they just needed some confidence and a couple of breaks. They’ve had that the last few games and they know what they can do. You never like to give up two goals like that but they definitely showed some resolve.”

Orange’s Tyler Mann put the Panthers ahead 3-1 with a line drive from a pass by Enzo Bruhns with 39:04 remaining in the second half. It was Mann’s second goal of the game after he scored the opener in the first half.

Zinn put Orange ahead 2-1 late in the first half with his first goal of the season.

Northwood stormed back with goals from Rui Aguiar and Gabriel Chirino to even the match 3-3 with 14:53 remaining in regulation.

After Stein’s game-winner, the Panther backline of Darius Corbett and Tucker Gaddy made vital plays down the stretch to keep the Chargers from sending the game into overtime. With 6:28 remaining, the Chargers had consecutive corner kicks, the last of which was headed out of danger by Corbett. Gaddy broke up a shot attempt by Chirino from ten yards away with less than four minutes remaining.

Since the win over Northwood, Orange has continued its hot streak with a pair of road victories.

On Friday night, the Panthers defeated Southern Durham, the leaders of the Northern Lakes Conference, 5-3 at Spartans Stadium. Orange goalkeeper Connor McMurtry had some huge saves down the stretch as the Panthers preserved its lead.

Mann, who had goals in all three of Orange’s games last week, scored two goals for Orange. Zinn added another. Murilo Lopes tallied his first goal of the season. Bryan Membreno added another goal for Orange off an assist from Ivan Guzman Ruiz. Dylan Silverman and Bruhns added assists for Orange.

On Monday night, the Panthers traveled to Graham for the second straight year and defeated the Red Devils 3-0. Travel Bruhns scored the game-winning goal for the Panthers. Zinn added another for his third goal in three games. Membreno added a goal and also assisted on Zinn’s insurance marker. McMurtry earned the win in net. Backup netminder Finn Kelly was inserted into the game with 25:00 remaining and finished out the win.

Orange (6-5, 3-1 in the Central Carolina Conference) is tied with Western Alamance for second place in the CCC. Walter Williams, the #1 ranked team in 3A East, sits atop the league at 4-0. The Bulldogs are 11-0-1 overall.

The Panthers are currently ranked #23 in the MaxPreps 3A East standings. 32 teams make the 3A State Playoffs from the Eastern Region. Orange’s last trip to the 3A State Playoffs came in 2017. Jamar Davis, now a long jumper at N.C. State, led the Panthers in scoring. Orange defeated White Oak 6-2 in overtime (yes, in overtime) to win in the opening round of the state playoffs. In the second round on a rainy Saturday night in Greensboro, Orange led Northern Guilford 2-1 in the second half before the Nighthawks rallied and won 3-2 in overtime.

Bruhns notches game-winning goal; Gaddy, Stein score as Orange soccer defeats Cedar Ridge 3-1

There’s a section of Orange High students who watched home soccer matches from the beds of their trucks across from Orange Middle School’s baseball/softball field.

Possibly for the first-time ever, they scaled the fence to rush the field on Wednesday night as the buzzer sounded to conclude Orange’s 3-1 win over Cedar Ridge.

As a noisy group of fans departed for the parking lot afterwards, one Orange supporter griped about the fans rushing the pitch, wishing they had acted like they had been there before.

Maybe so, but the fact of the matter is none of the Orange players had been there before. It was the Panthers’ first win over Cedar Ridge since October 8, 2018, when many of the 13 seniors currently on the Orange roster were in middle school.

Orange (2-5, 1-1 in the Central Carolina Conference) earned its first home win of the season in front of a spirited and large crowd representing both schools. After the final buzzer, an Orange student playfully rushed across to the Cedar Ridge student section on the opposite grandstand to hand them a gold, inflatable ballon shaped like an “L” for loss. Fortunately, it was received in good nature.

Orange, which had only scored three goals in its first six games, doubled that total agains the Red Wolves. The Panthers surprisingly dominated possession in the first half after Cedar Ridge’s Issac Anderson scored the opening goal off a corner kick in the fifth minute.

“That’s what we expect,” said Orange coach Palmer Bowman said. “We were disappointed that we got down in that situation and we expected to control possession, create and move forward. That’s what we did.”

With Cedar Ridge ahead 1-0, the Panthers fired from all directions to keep Red Wolves freshman goalkeeper Erik Galunas busy. With 27:18 remaining in the first half, Galunas made a diving save on a shot from 23 yards by Orange senior Bryan Membreno. Afterwards, Galunas came up limping.

The Panthers continued to pour on the pressure until senior Tucker Gaddy scored off a rebound on a corner kick. Tucker fired it into the top right corner of the net from 22 yards away for the equalizer, right in front of the Truck Bed Rowdies, who tested the shocks on their vehicles by jumping up and down.

The Orange defense limited Cedar Ridge’s attack to a handful of counters for the remainder of the half. The Red Wolves best chance came when Chris Mendez, who has two hat tricks this season, whistled a line drive past Orange goalkeeper Connor McMurtry that narrowly cleared the crossbar.

“I think we had some difficulties trying to gain possession, at times,” said Cedar Ridge coach Chauncey Brummell. “I think we just didn’t put it together. I think all the pieces are there, we just couldn’t find the magic to put it all together.”

After Orange’s Dylan Silverman nearly notched a second Panther tally following a steal and shot that barely inched over the goal, junior Enzo Bruhns got the game-winner off a pass from Ivan Guzman Ruiz, who stole the ball away at midfield with 10:02 remaining in the first half.

“He’s just a high energy guy,” Bowman said about Bruhns. “We put him in there and told him to go chase the ball. He did and he was able to convert.”

With 38:43 remaining in the second half, Orange junior Ryker Stein gained possession from 12 yards away and scored his first goal of the season, vaulting the Panthers ahead 3-1. The rally started with a shot by Membreno that rebounded off a Red Wolves defender, was followed by another attempt from Tyler Mann.

The Red Wolves did have various chances throughout the second half. Shortly after Stein’s goal, Mendez took a lead pass from Justin Murillo in an attempt to narrow the deficit. Orange senior centerback Darius Corbett thwarted the chance by winning a foot race and kicking it to McMurtry.

Orange wingback Cooper Zinn headed a ball off the goal line following another shot by Mendez from a corner kick by Mendez with 18:41 remaining.

“Orange had a lot of intensity,” Brummell said. “Their fans helped out a lot and gave them a lot of support. That can be a game changer. Good for them. They played well and executed when we fell short.”

Orange, who held defending 3A State Champion Western Alamance in check offensively last week in a 2-1 loss in Hillsborough, will look to continue its momentum in Roxboro against Person on Monday.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” Bowman said. “But it’s starting to trend in the right direction.”

Orange’s Tucker Gaddy, Ryker Stein & Enzo Bruhns discuss soccer win over Cedar Ridge

Orange soccer fans who watch games from the beds of their trucks rushed the field on Wednesday night as the Panthers won the first leg of the Hillsborough Derby. The Panthers scored three unanswered goals to defeat crosstown rival Cedar Ridge 3-1 at Orange Soccer Field. It ended the Panthers five-game losing streak to the Red Wolves. Orange defeated Cedar Ridge for the first time since October 8, 2018. After the Red Wolves’ scored the opening goal off a corner kick in the opening five minutes, the Panthers controlled possession for much of the rest of the first half. Tucker Gaddy, a senior co-Captain, scored the equalizing goal in the 20th minute. Orange took the lead in the 30th minute when junior Enzo Bruhns took a pass off a steal from Ivan Guzman Ruiz and fired it in from ten yards away. In the second half, Orange added insurance when junior Ryker Stein unleashed a shot from 12 yards away and scored off a rebound. The possession started when Bryan Membreno fired a shot on net, followed by another shot from midfielder Tyler Mann. Orange earned its second win of the season and will face Person in Roxboro on Monday night.