Orange Men’s Soccer

Orange Panther of the Week: Finn Kelly

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is senior men’s soccer goalkeeper Finn Kelly. This season, the Panthers made the 3A State Playoffs. It was the second straight year that the Panthers reached the postseason.It is the first time in the 37-year history of the program that Orange has made the state playoffs in consecutive years. At midseason, Kelly had consecutive clean sheets against Cedar Ridge and Person. Against the Red Wolves, Kelly kept the Red Wolves off the scoreboard as the Panthers won the second leg of the Hillsborough Derby. That led to Orange strengthening its position to make the state playoffs. In his final regular season game, Kelly had another clean sheet as the Panthers defeated Eastern Alamance 2-0 at the John Kirby Sports Complex in Mebane. He made three saves to earn the win. Kelly has trained with the North Carolina Football Club Academy in Cary, members of the United Soccer League Championship. This season, Kelly had four clean sheets for Orange, who finished 8-8-3 overall. The Panthers finished 6-4-3 in the Central Conference. Kelly will graduate from Orange in June. He finished the 2023 season with 132 saves. Kelly earned a win on opening night when Orange defeated the Durham School of the Arts 2-1 in downtown Durham.

Odds and Sods: Orange’s Bruhns scores two goals in win over Eastern Alamance; Cedar Ridge tennis season ends

Men’s Soccer: Orange 2, Eastern Alamance 0: It’s all but certain that the Orange men’s soccer team will do something unprecedented in the 35-year history of the program later this week.

They will make the state playoffs in back-to-back years.

On Monday night, the Panthers got two goals from Traver Bruhns to defeat Eastern Alamance 2-0 at the John Kirby Sports Complex in Mebane. With the win, the Panthers ensured a winning regular season at 8-7-3. They end the Central Carolina Conference slate at 6-4-2, good enough for fourth place.

In his final regular season game, Bruhns, a senior, had his first career brace. Angel Chavez and Daniel Romero assisted on the goals.

Orange goalkeeper Finn Kelly made six saves to earn his fourth clean sheet of the season.

As of Wednesday night, Orange was ranked #26 in the 3A East RPI rankings, which would comfortably put them in the field of 64. The state tournament begins on Monday.

Women’s Tennis: Rocky Mount 5, Cedar Ridge 1: In the second round of the 3A State Dual Team Playoffs, Rocky Mount ended Cedar Ridge’s season on Monday afternoon.

The Gryphons, the champions of The Big East, improved to 15-0. In her final match, Cedar Ridge’s Annabeth Lundberg defeated Jillian Schrimper 7-5, 6-3, the only win of the day for the Red Wolves.

Cedar Ridge ends the season 14-6. It was the final match for head coach Steve Mayhew, who is stepping down after four years. Under his direction, the Red Wolves won the first men’s tennis conference championship in school history in 2022. Mayhew, a former player at Orange, coached the women’s team to its first victory in the 3A State Team playoffs since 2016 last week when they defeated crosstown rival Orange.

Mayhew’s daughter, Cameron, also played in her final match for the Red Wolves. Cameron Mayhew ended her senior year with a singles record of 14-3. It was also the final matches for Lundberg, Catherine Ballenger, Dupree Sorenson, and Raven Mowles-Airing.

Cedar Ridge finished with the most overall wins since they won the Big 8 Conference championship in 2016. That team, with Lennie Corbett as head coach, reached the 3A State Quarterfinals with an overall record of 19-2.

Equalizer–Lopez scores game-winner, Kelly earns clean sheet in Orange’s 2-0 win over Cedar Ridge in Hillsborough Derby

In the midst of a wide open race in the Central Carolina Conference, there isn’t much separating a first-place team from a fifth-place squad.

Thus, it isn’t surprising that the battle for first place will likely boil down to the final night of the regular season on October 23. Some late heroics from Orange’s Joseph Lopez made a tight battle even more narrow on Monday night.

Following a scoreless regulation, Lopez scored the game-winning goal in the 91st minute as Orange defeated Cedar Ridge 2-0 in overtime to win the second leg of the Hillsborough Derby. Orange senior goalkeeper Finn Kelly made a season-high 15 saves to earn his second clean sheet of the season.

It was the first CCC loss of the season for Cedar Ridge (11-3-2, 7-1-1 in the CCC). The loss put Cedar Ridge into a tie with Western Alamance for first place in the CCC. The Red Wolves will travel to Elon to face the Warriors on Monday night.

Orange (5-6-2, 5-3-1) used its defense to shutout a Red Wolves team that piled up a season-best seven goals in its previous game against Southern Alamance. The Panthers have allowed only four goals in its last four games going into Wednesday’s road trip to Person.

Orange immediately threatened following the kickoff to the opening 10-minute overtime. Junior Angel Chavez sent a diagonal long ball to the left sideline that Dallas Johnson ran down before it rolled over the boundary. Johnson played it back to senior Ryker Stein, who unleashed a right-footed shot that sailed just below the crossbar. Cedar Ridge goalkeeper Erik Galunas made a diving save.

Orange’s Daniel Romero, positioned along the right post, made a bicycle kick attempt on the rebound that was briefly put aside by the Red Wolves’ Salomon Hernandez. Yurem Tapia Mendez kept possession in the box for Orange and attempted a shot that was blocked by Giovani Yanez. Hernandez slid and knocked the ball away. The ball went off Mendez’s leg right to Lopez, standing off to the left eight yards away, who fired a quick shot into the corner past a diving Galunas with 9:05 remaining in the first overtime. The entire Orange team chased Lopez to the sideline, where several Panther fans joined in the celebration.

Cedar Ridge’s best attempt for an equalizer came with 6:27 remaining in the second overtime. Senior Abazar Babiker sent a worm burner of a long ball ahead to midfielder Dominic McNerney. The subsequent throw-in by McNerney found Gael Antunez-Nunez, who fired a line drive from 12 yards away along the right side of the area. Kelly was positioned along the near post to stop the shot with both hands.

Minutes later, after Kelly halted another long pass intended for Antunez-Nunez, Johnson took a free kick following a Cedar Ridge offsides infraction. Mendez won a ball off a rebound at midfield and triggered a pass to Emmanuel Mil Cruz, who started an attack up the field. Enzo Bruhns drew two Red Wolves at the top of the box, then found Daniel Romero along the right edge. Romero chipped the ball from 17 yards away past a sprawling Galunas for the insurance goal, Romero’s third of the season.

“We just tried to take away some crossing lanes,” said Orange coach Palmer Bowman. “Our centerbacks, Dallas Johnson and Jay Parker, did a good job of cutting off their passes. I was pleased with our defensive effort tonight.”

Last month, Cedar Ridge defeated Orange 2-1 at Red Wolves Stadium behind goals from Jonam Juarez and McNerney.

“We didn’t execute,” said Cedar Ridge head coach Chauncey Brummells. “All credit to Palmer and Orange. I think they had a good gameplan tonight. They were dangerous on the set pieces. Dominic (McNerney), Sal (Salomon Hernandez) and Marc Reid did a really good job defending. Credit to Orange. They played a really good game. We had chances and just couldn’t finish.”

Orange men’s soccer’s Emmanuel Mil Cruz & Finn Kelly discuss win over Cedar Ridge

Days after its first victory over Walter Williams in decades, the Orange men’s soccer team knocked off Cedar Ridge 2-0 in overtime during the second leg of the Hillsborough Derby at Orange Soccer Field on Monday night. Joseph Lopez scored the game-winning goal, the second of his Orange career, in the 81st minute as the Panthers became the first team from the Central Carolina Conference to beat the Red Wolves this season. Daniel Romero added an insurance goal in the 98th minute as Orange improved to 5-6-2, 4-3-1 in the CCC. Senior goalkeeper Finn Kelly made a season-high 15 saves, including one with 6:27 remaining in the second overtime on a shot by Gael Antunez-Nunez along the near post that could have easily tied the game. With three games remaining in the regular season, Orange is in good shape to make the state playoffs for the second straight season. Senior co-Captain Emmanuel Mil Cruz leads the team with four goals in 2023. Orange will journey to Roxboro to face Person on Wednesday. The Panthers will be shooting for its third straight victory in the CCC.

Orange sophomore Dallas Johnson discusses soccer win over Person

After a frustrating month, the Orange men’s soccer team returned to the win column on Monday night. The Panthers defeated Person 4-1 at Orange Soccer Park. Sophomore Dallas Johnson scored his first varsity goal on a penalty kick in the first half. Another sophomore Daniel Romero, notched the game-winning goal for the Panthers, who earned its second win of the season. Junior Angel Chavez also scored in the first half, while senior Emmanuel Mil Cruz added a goal off a header on a gorgeous cross in the second half. Mil Cruz’s goal came off an assist from sophomore Yore Tapia Mendez. Mil Cruz leads Orange with three goals, including the game-winner in the Panthers’ season-opening victory over Durham School of the Arts. Orange lost plenty of players from last year’s team that reached the 3A State playoffs for the first time since 2017. Senior goalkeeper Finn Kelly made two saves to earn his second win of the season. Orange will return to action on Wednesday night when they face Southern Alamance at Redmond Stadium in Graham.

Soccer Notebook: Romero’s opener leads Orange past Person 4-1; Juarez, Hernandez score in Cedar Ridge 3-1 win at Eastern Alamance

It was time that the Orange men’s soccer team found its scoring punch after a frustrating month. The Panthers struck early on Monday night for its first Central Carolina Conference win of the season against Person.

Daniel Romero scored his first goal of the season in the fifth minute, which turned out to be the game-winner, as Orange defeated the Rockets 4-1 at Orange Soccer Park. Sophomore Dallas Johnson added his first tally of the season on a penalty kick in the 11th minute for insurance.

Orange won for the first time since its season opener at Durham School of the Arts on August 17 in the Bull City. Romero lead the Panthers with five shots. The Panthers (2-5-1, 1-2 in the Central Carolina Conference), fired 17 shots against Person goalkeeper Jared Viveros, who was under constant siege in the second half. Orange had eleven corner kicks.

“I think we were watching each other a little bit more,” said Orange coach Palmer Bowman. “I think we needed to follow up things a little bit more and put in a little more effort to make sure that effort was rewarded.”

After Person netted a goal to reduce Orange’s lead to 2-1, the Panthers’ Angel Chavez knotted an equalizer in the 34th minute. In the second half, the Panthers had a litany of crosses that yielded plenty of chances but not enough scoring. Finally, Emmanuel Mil Cruz scored on the closing goal on a header in the 55th minute. Mil Cruz now leads Orange with three goals this season.

Angel Arroyo-Cruz, Yore Tapia-Mendez and Romero also had assists for the Panthers.

“I think Dallas Johnson, Yurem Tapia-Mendez played pretty well,” Bowman said. “Those are some younger guys who are really stepping up and taking leadership roles.”

Finn Kelly earned the win as Orange goalkeeper. Backup Eben Petrifies replaced Kelly in net late in the game. Kelly earned his second win of the season.

Orange will travel to Hanford Stadium to face Southern Alamance in Graham on Wednesday.

“I want to be more focused and consistent,” Bowman said about the rest of the regular season. “I want to be more focused going into everything and maintain that focus throughout. If we do that, I think we’ll be OK. But we haven’t done that and here we are.”

Cedar Ridge 3, Eastern Alamance 1: The Cedar Ridge men’s soccer team not only grabbed a road win on Monday night. They set up potentially the biggest soccer match at Red Wolves Stadium in years this Wednesday night.

For the second straight game, junior co-Captain Dominic McNerney scored the game-winning goal as the Red Wolves defeated Eastern Alamance at the John Kirby Sports Complex in Mebane. Senior co-Captain Illah Babchenko assisted on two goals as the Red Wolves improved to 7-1-2, 3-0-1 in the CCC.

Cedar Ridge is now in sole possession of second place in the conference. The only team ahead of them is Western Alamance. On Wednesday night, the Warriors will visit Red Wolves Stadium with first place on the line.

Jonam Juarez scored his second goal in as many games, assisted by Gael Arturo Nunez. Solomon Hernandez finished the scoring with an insurance tally in the second half.

Cedar Ridge goalkeeper Eric Galunas finished with six saves to earn his seventh win of the season.

Cedar Ridge has won in its last three trips to Eastern Alamance.

The Red Wolves last winning season came in 2016, when they finished 10-6-4. Since then, they haven’t had more than eight wins in a regular season.

After the matchup against Western Alamance on Wednesday, the Red Wolves will travel to Burlington to face Walter Williams next Monday.

Cedar Ridge is 4-1-2 on the road this year. Its only road loss came against East Chapel Hill two weeks ago.

Odds and Sods: Stein’s goal in final minute leads to Orange soccer’s 1-1 tie at Carrboro; Cedar Ridge ties Northwood; women’s tennis scores

Men’s soccer: Orange 1, Carrboro 1: It looked as if the Orange men’s soccer team would suffer its second straight loss before a senior came up big in the waning seconds at Carrboro.

Ryker Stein scored his first goal of the season with 54 seconds remaining in regulation to help the Panthers escape with a 1-1 tie against the Jaguars on Wednesday night.

With just over a minute remaining, Stein was fouled 50 yards from net. On the subsequent free kick, the ball hopped into the penalty area off the shoulder of Orange’s Yurem Tapia Mendez. Stein turned on the rebound with a cross swing off his right foot that bounced into the lower left corner of the net for the equalizer.

Carrboro took the lead off a corner kick with 25:52 remaining in the second half.

It was the first time that Orange tied Carrboro since  2018, when the two teams played to a 2-2 deadlock in 2017. The two teams last met in 2019, when the Jaguars defeated the Panthers 8-2 inside Jaguars Stadium.

Orange (1-1-1) will travel to WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary on Saturday morning for the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association Kick-off Classic. The Panthers will face Pinecrest at 11AM.

Cedar Ridge 1, Northwood 1: Cedar Ridge ended a three-game losing streak at Northwood with a 1-1 tie against the Chargers in Pittsboro on Monday night.

Junior Dominic McNerney scored the Red Wolves’ only goal off an assist by Rudy Fuentes. McNerney, a co-Captain, has had either an assist or a goal in each of Cedar Ridge’s four games thus far.

Goalkeeper Erik Galunas made six saves to preserve the tie. The Red Wolves remain undefeated at 3-0-1 and will return to Chatham County to face Seaforth on Monday night. It will be the final game of Cedar Ridge’s four-game road trip.

Women’s Tennis: Orange 9, Southeast Alamance 0: In the first-ever matchup between the Lady Panthers and the Stallions on the tennis courts, Orange emerged with its third win of the season. The Lady Panthers improved to 3-1 on the season.

Durham School of the Arts 5, Orange 4: On Tuesday night, the Bulldogs handed Orange its first loss of the season with victories in four of the six singles matches.

For Orange, junior Shannon Sollars remained undefeated on the season. Sollars defeated Lucia Harrington 6-2, 6-1 at #2 singles. Later in the night, Sollars teamed with her sister Erin to win at #1 doubles over Harrington and Giselle Cowden 8-3.

Orange senior Mikayla Davis won at #3 singles over Sadie Miller 6-4, 6-4. Davis teamed with Molly Kruse to win at #2 doubles 6-4.

DSA’s Avonell O’Keefe and Ruby Free clinched the match for the Bulldogs, beating Ellie Wilson and Violet Shaw 8-4. The Lady Panthers will return to action on Thursday (today) against former Central Carolina Conference rival Northwood.


Orange men’s soccer’s Emmanuel Mil Cruz & Traver Bruhns discuss win over DSA

It took some waiting for the Orange men’s soccer team to finally gets its season going. Their original season opener was set against Northern Durham last week, but it was postponed twice because of weather. Instead, the Panthers opened at Durham School of the Arts last Thursday and came away with a victory. Emmanuel Mil Cruz headed home a free kick by Traver Bruhns  in the second half to lift the Panthers past the Bulldogs 2-1. Bruins opened the game with the first goal. It was a solid win for Orange, who defeated a DSA team that won 14 games in 2022 and reached the 3A State Playoffs. Orange replaces 13 seniors from last year’s team, which reached the state playoffs for the first time since 2017. The top four goal scorers from the 2022 team graduated. Mil Cruz is the top returning scorer with four goals. Orange dropped its home opener against Southern Durham on Monday night. The Spartans won 4-0. Orange will try to rebound when they face Carrboro at Jaguar Stadium on Wednesday night. On Saturday, the Panthers will travel to WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary to face Pinecrest in the North Carolian Soccer Coaches Association Kick-Off Classic. The Panthers will kick off against the Patriots at 11 AM.

Soccer Notebook: Mil Cruz’s header lifts Orange past DSA 2-1; Babchenko, Tarija score in Cedar Ridge’s win at Voyager

There’s something that feels right about soccer in downtown Durham.

In the distance beyond the scoreboard at venerable Durham School of the Arts, there’s the Durham skyline. The storied Durham Mutual Life building can be seen by all visitors to Bulldog Stadium. It stands alongside the historic Chesterfield Building, a reminder when Durham was truly a tobacco town with the piercing smell lingered throughout town at the end of a summer days.

That’s where the Orange men’s soccer team finally started its season on Thursday night. Two seniors hooked up on a free kick for the game-winning goal.

Emmanuel Mil Cruz headed in a free kick supplied by senior Traver Bruhns with 29:54 remaining in regulation. The Panthers midfield, which was outplayed for much of the first half, largely controlled possession for the remainder of the night as Orange rode out a 2-1 victory over the Bulldogs.

Senior goalkeeper Finn Kelly earned the victory for Orange, who lost 13 seniors from the 2022 team that reached the 3A State Playoffs.

“We were more aggressive in the second half,” said Orange coach Palmer Bowman. “(DSA) Coach (Amy) Green does a great job. We knew #7 (Declan Fahley) and #9 (Ryan Rosales) were some great players. We knew we had to clean it up or they were going to punish us. We were lucky they didn’t put more on us in the first half.”

After Bruhns scored the opening goal for Orange, DSA’s Rosales notched the equalizer 0ff a corner kick. Rosales nearly added a second when he headed the ball past Kelly at the top of the box. Orange centerback Jay Parker rushed over to clear the ball off the line to keep the game tied at halftime.

After Kelly caught a Bulldog shot from distance to begin the second half, the Panthers controlled possession for the next half-hour. Joseph Lopez was tripped along the right sideline to set up a free kick. Bruhns played it to the six-yard box, where Mil Cruz soared above everyone and made solid contact with the corner of his head to tuck the ball into the roof of the net.

“Emmanuel is the workhorse for us,” Bowman said. “He and Traver are out wide for us. We ask them to do a lot of running and we ask a lot of them. But we ask them that because we know that they can do it.”

As the sun faded and the heat dissipated, Orange refused to allow a DSA counter. The Panthers piled on chance after chance in an attempt to gain a third goal. Angel Chavez attempted a header on another Orange corner, but it sailed over the crossbar. A long ball by Parker was run down by Bruhns, whose attempt went wide. Daniel Romero took a corner and fired a shot inside the six-yard box, but it was captured by DSA goalkeeper Joseph Morgado. Mil Cruz nearly earned a brace with a shot off a dead sprint that Morgado’s got a fingernail on to send it over the end line. Dallas Edwards hit the post off a corner kick with 5:12 remaining.

The Bulldogs best attempt came with 7:15 remaining when Romero nearly chased down a long ball, but Dallas Johnson cleared it away to nullify a potential game-tying goal.

It was the the first time since 2019 that Orange won its season opener. The Panthers will play its home opener against Southern Durham on Monday night.

Cedar Ridge 4, Voyager Aacdemy 1: 

The Cedar Ridge men’s soccer team is 2-0 for the first time since 2019. The Red Wolves earned a road win at Voyager Academy on Thursday night.

Senior Captain Illiah Babchenko, who score the game-winning goal against Eno River Academy on Monday night, scored off a penalty kick. Andy Tarija scored his second goal of the season. Jonam Juarez and Abazar Babiker also notched goals for the Red Wolves.

Gael Antunez-Nunez had two assists. He had helpers on the goals by Tarija and Juarez. Junior Dominic McNerney assisted on Abazar’s goal.

Cedar Ridge will continues its four-game road trip against Vance County on Monday night.


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.