CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD FINALIZED
IN NCHSAA MEN'S SOCCER
CARY — Four championships will be decided this weekend in the annual North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s state men’s soccer championships at WakeMed Soccer Park, and the field was finalized until after three regional championship games Thursday night.
The championship weekend will start with the 1-A final on Friday night at 7:30. Three games are set for Saturday, starting with the 2-A title match at 11 a.m., followed by the 3-A at 2 p.m. and the 4-A final at 5 p.m. This will be the 11th year for four separate classified championships.
All four of the games will be televised by Time Warner Cable and available on Carolina on Demand, digital channel 199 or 1047 on Time Warner systems across the state, within a couple of days after the championships.
Rain forced postponement of the 1-A Western final between Hendersonville and Kernersville Bishop McGuinness, and Hendersonville (18—6-1) took a 2-1 victory to advance to face the North Carolina School of Science and Math (16-2-1) for the state title Friday night. NCSSM won the 2007 1-A crown and lost to Hendersonville in last year's state final.
NCSSM has won 12 in a row, including a dramatic sudden-death overtime victory over Southwest Onslow in the Eastern Regional final as James Andrews had a hat trick, including the game winner. Brackin Kirkland is the Bearcats' leading scorer with 24 goals.
Saturday's first game is for the 2-A championship at 11 a.m., and there were four teams vying on Thursday night to advance out of regional championships. Carrboro beat East Duplin 3-2 in overtime while two-time defending state champion Shelby fell in dramatic fashion to Salisbury, which scored two goals in a 37-second span with less than five minutes to go for a 3-2 win.
So Carrboro (24-1-2) will take on Salisbury (23-1-1) in the state championship, with both teams making their first appearance for the title. Connor Roach of Carrboro was the Carolina 12 Conference Player of the Year while Salisbury's leading scorers include Kenny Bonilla and Emmy Turcios.
The 2 p.m. game is for the 3-A crown as two perennial powers collide, with Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (23-2-1) facing Charlotte Catholic (22-3). Gibbons is in the state finals for the sixth time in the last seven seasons while Catholic is in the championship match for a record 16th time, with seven previous titles.
It's a rematch of a regular season battle in which Catholic nipped Gibbons 2-1.
Cardinal Gibbons, a team with great balance, has five players with at least 12 goals, led by Tim Nicolosi and Ade Taiwo with 16 apiece. The Crusaders are averaging 5.6 goals per game and have outscored their opposition 26-3 in the postseason, while Charlotte Catholic's offense is led by two-time MEGA-7 Player of the Year Roland Minogue (39 goals, 20 assists).
The 4-A championship Saturday will send Cary Green Hope (24-1) against Charlotte Myers Park (22-2-1). Green Hope is 0-2 in previous finals, with runner-up finishes in 2009 and 2001, while Myers Park is in the championship match for the fifth time with a 1-3 finals record, as the Mustangs won the '08 4-A crown.
Drew Altman is Green Hope's leading scorer with 16 goals and captain Will Moore scored twice for the Falcons in their 4-0 regional victory over Southern Pines Pinecrest.
Eric Suarez is the leading scorer for the Mustangs, who are averaging better than 4.5 goals per game and have scored 22 goals in five playoff games.
Tickets will be eight dollars at the gate. The Raleigh Sports Consortium serves as a host city sponsor for these championships, along with the city of Raleigh and the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.
NORTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
2011 STATE MEN’S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIPS
WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary
Friday, November 18
Class 1-A: 7:30 p.m.
North Carolina School of Science and Math Unicorns (16-2-1) vs. Hendersonville High School Bearcats (18-6-1)
Saturday, November 19
Class 2-A: 11 a.m.
Carrboro High School Jaguars (24-1-2) vs. Salisbury High School Hornets (23-1-1)
Class 3-A: 2 p.m.
Cardinal Gibbons High School Crusaders (23-2-1) vs. Charlotte Catholic High School Cougars (22-3)
Class 4-A: 5 p.m.
Green Hope High School Falcons (24-1) vs. Myers Park High School Mustangs (22-2-1)