By Cliff Mehrtens
MOORESVILLE – Hough High’s Olivia DeMarcus held a post-game ice pack to her temple, but was feeling more euphoria than pain.
DeMarcus scored an overtime goal to give Hough a 2-1 victory against rival Lake Norman on Friday in the fourth round of the N.C. 4A girls soccer playoffs. The victory sent Hough (20-2) into the state semifinal Tuesday against the Myers Park/West Forsyth winner.
Hough’s win also ended Lake Norman’s 24-game winning streak.
In the first (of two) 10-minute overtimes, Hough’s Ashley Johnson dribbled to the left side and launched a hard shot that Lake Norman goalkeeper Samantha Stoney dived to deflect. The ball landed at DeMarcus’s feet on the other side of the goal. She drilled in a low shot, then was engulfed by screeching teammates.
“I saw Ashley (Johnson) make a run and I saw the back post was open,” DeMarcus said. “I sprinted to get there. This game we kept our heads and played more as a team.”
The game matched the No. 2 team in the state poll (Lake Norman) against No. 3 (Hough). It was the third straight season they’ve played in the fourth round of the playoffs, and Hough has won all three.
Last season, Hough went 26-0-1. Lake Norman was 22-3, with all three losses to Hough.
This season, Hough is 20-2, with the losses to Lake Norman. The Wildcats’ lone loss in 25 games was to Hough.
In the past two seasons, no other team has beaten Hough or Lake Norman. They’re a combined 92-0-1 when they haven’t played each other.
“No disrespect to anyone in the east, but if this isn’t the best rivalry in North Carolina in women’s soccer, I don’t know what it,” Hough coach David Smith said.
Lake Norman beat Hough both times in the regular season, but the Huskies were a bit sharper and slightly more aggressive Friday.
Johnson, a freshman who played most of the season on the junior varsity, scored midway through the second half to give Hough a 1-0 lead. The Huskies, sparked by some dazzling saves by goalkeeper Marnie Merritt, clung to the lead until Lake Norman’s Amanda Karlsson tied the game with 13 minutes left in regulation. She corralled a loose ball near the 18-yard box, spun left and drilled a shot into the upper corner past a diving Merritt to tie the game at 1.