Noah Kemble raised his arms, almost floating to the rest of his teammates who began to stream toward him in celebration. The Havelock senior had just scored his second goal, a game-clincher, in a 3-1 victory over Swansboro, and he wanted to enjoy the moment in his last match at Havelock High.
“As soon as the ball went in, I kind of knew we were going to win the game,” Kemble said. “It’s the last goal I was ever going to score at home, so I tried to relish it as much as I could because I knew it was the last one.”
The Rams (7-8-2, 5-5) scored two goals in the first nine minutes of the match, taking control over the third-ranked Pirates (16-2-2, 10-1).
“I didn’t think we came out with the same intensity as Havelock did and Havelock really made us pay with those two early goals,” Swansboro coach Doug Kidd said. “One of our strengths this year has been our defending, and we broke down there, but again, credit Havelock for that.”
Playing on Senior Night and with a roster of 12 seniors, the Rams came out full of emotion. Havelock scored on a throw-in when Justin Kilgore’s toss reached the front of the net where Kemble headed the ball past Swansboro keeper Nick Kohlman just three minutes into the match.
“It was great throw by Justin, and I just did my best to get to the goal, and I was lucky enough to get my head on it,” Kemble said.
Six minutes later, Kemble fed a streaking Kevin Quinn, who gave the Rams a 2-0 lead.
“They came out right from the get-go and wanted it,” Havelock coach Jeremiah Johnson said of his team. “Just the fact that it was their last home game for so many of them, they wanted it that much more.”
The stunned Pirates tried to regroup and got Garrett Carpenter’s goal on an assist from Edward Radley, getting to within 2-1 at halftime.
Swansboro missed opportunities on a pair of corner kicks in the second half, and Havelock keeper Zach Martin made a couple of saves. Havelock defenders Kilgore, R.J. Howard, Jason Hollister and Darren Miles managed to keep the Pirates’ speed contained. With the clock ticking down, Quinn worked a give-and-go with Kemble, who got past Kohlman with the clinching goal with just six minutes left in the match.
“I think we played with heart more than anything,” Kemble said. “It was just a team effort. The seniors really wanted to go out with a bang on their home field, and the guys who weren’t seniors stepped it up for their teammates. It was just a great overall team effort.”
Kemble, who has committed to play in college at George Mason, called the victory the highlight of his four years at Havelock.
“This ranks right at the top,” he said. “It’s No. 1 as far as wins goes. It’s conference, and we’re fighting to get into the playoffs, and they’re No. 3 in the state, which I think is the best team Havelock’s ever beaten. To go out on Senior Night, my last home game, it just feels better than any other win I’ve had in high school.”
The victory means Havelock has a chance to clinch third in the conference and a playoff spot by beating Richlands tonight and West Carteret on Thursday.