2021 4A Men’s Soccer State Championship Recap | New Hanover slams Hough 3-0 to grab their first state title
CARY, NC – New Hanover sped past Hough 3-0 in the 4A State Championship Match, winning the Wildcats’ first State Championship in program history. The Wildcats opened on the attack outshooting Hough 14-3, with 10 of those 14 on frame, in the opening half on their way to a dominating win.
Aidan Payne was selected as the match’s MVP with two goals and an assist in the game. He constantly caused problems for the Hough defense with his pace and skilled footwork, creating space and finding holes in the finishing third of the field.
The Wildcats opened the scoring early as Payne found Charlie Letson on a cross through the box. Letson let loose a blast off his right foot into the low left portion of the goal to give New Hanover a 1-0 lead in the 8th minute. In the 26th minute, Payne opened his account as a deflected ball in the Hough defense fell to his right foot and he made no mistake with the finish to go up 2-0.
To cap off the night, Payne netted his 54th goal of the season as Andy McCague dropped a high ball into the box leading Payne to a wide open right footed finish. Payne’s marker in the 60th minute closed out the scoring and allowed the Wildcats to relax a bit into a more defensive posture, though Payne did threaten a few more chances vying for a hat trick.
Hough finished the season 22-4-1. The Huskies were 11-1 and champions of the Queen City 3A/4A Conference. The Huskies won their second Western Regional Final appearing in the State Championship for the first time since 2017.
New Hanover wrapped up their 2021 campaign with a 26-0-1 record. The Wildcats were the champions of the Mideastern 3A/4A at 14-0-0 in league play. New Hanover won their third Eastern Regional Championship and appeared in their second straight State Championship Match.
The NCHSAA is committed to promoting good sportsmanship and has partnered with NC Farm Bureau to recognize two student-athletes from each state championship who have demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship throughout the year. The winners of the 2021 4A Men’s Soccer NC Farm Bureau Sportsmanship Awards were Preston Lian from New Hanover and Griffin Klebba from Hough.
2021 2A Men’s Soccer State Championship Recap | Shelby outlasts Greene Central in PKs behind Wilbanks’ clean sheet
CARY, NC – In the closest of championship matches, Shelby outlasted a feisty Greene Central team, edging the Rams in penalty kicks 5-3. Golden Lions goalkeeper Eli Wilbanks managed to keep Greene Central off the scoreboard in 110 minutes of regulation and overtime periods, making nine saves on his way to being named the 2A Men’s Soccer State Championship Match MVP.
Greene Central had more of the high-quality scoring opportunities in regulation as the Rams outshot Shelby 25-15 in the match, putting nine of those 25 on frame. Despite the best efforts of Ariel Nunez and Nathan Drake, the Rams couldn’t break through the Shelby defense. Nunez and Drake combined for 14 shots and caused headaches in the Shelby back line with their technical prowess, but the Rams never were able to find the quality strike needed to solve Wilbanks.
Shelby likewise had brilliant spurts of play from Greg Arce and Dylan Steeves but were consistently thwarted by the organized back four of Greene Central. Rams’ defenders Miguel Lopez-Berrios and Ernesto Rubio shut down attacks on the flanks and Shelby struggled to piece together any attacks at the center of the Greene Central defense.
After a scoreless draw through 120 minutes, the match headed to penalty kicks. Shelby netted the opening kick of the shootout, while Greene Central’s Enrique Lopez-Lemus sent the Rams’ first kick off of the crossbar and out. It was the only miss of the shootout for either team, as in the fifth round of the shootout Cade Ledbetter drilled a ball into the right side of the net to claim Shelby’s third State Championship in program history
Greene Central finished the season 25-2-0. The Rams won the Eastern Plains 2A Conference with a perfect 12-0-0 record. The Rams won their first Eastern Regional Championship and appeared in the program’s first State Championship Match.
Shelby wrapped up the year 23-1-2. The Golden Lions were the champions of the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A at 12-0-0. The Lions won the Western Regional Championship for the fourth time in school history and appeared in the State Finals for the first time since three-straight finals appearances from 2008-2010.
The NCHSAA is committed to promoting good sportsmanship and has partnered with NC Farm Bureau to recognize two student-athletes from each state championship who have demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship throughout the year. The winners of the 2021 2A Men’s Soccer NC Farm Bureau Sportsmanship Awards were Eli Wilbanks from Shelby and Jose Morquecho from Greene Central.
2021 1A Men’s Soccer State Championship Recap | Christ the King runs away from Voyager 3-0 for first title
CARY, NC – Christ the King got a pair of goals from Marcos Frias to down Voyager Academy 3-0 and win the 1A Men’s Soccer State Championship. The State Championship was the first in program history for the Crusaders.
The Crusaders opened the game on the front foot, providing pressure on the Viking backline for the opening 10 minutes. Voyager struggled to clear the ball from their own end during that stretch as Drew Hansen, Frias and Alex Neal kept the ball hemmed up on the Viking side of the pitch.
Voyager eventually found their footing, as Emory Crichlow and Ryan Dillon were able to get a few shots off on frame before the game reached the 20th minute. However, in the 23rd minute Christ the King flipped the field quickly on a counter opportunity and the ball was deflected high in the air in the Viking box. As the ball fell about 10 yards from goal, it found the foot of Frias, who switched it quickly to his right foot and slipped it low and hard past the Voyager keeper to open the scoring and give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead.
The Crusaders added another marker in the 65th minute as they won a corner kick and the ball trickled through the box before Olivier Harrison chipped it in front of an open Dillon Kocher who volleyed it home off his right boot to give the Crusaders a 2-0 lead.
As Voyager scrambled to get back in the match a minute later, Charley Whight picked up his second yellow card and the Viking had to finish the final 14 minutes a man down. Playing shorthanded, the Vikings conceded a foul at the top of the penalty area in the 73rd minute. Frias hammered a free kick with his right foot, curling it around the wall and past the keeper from about 22 yards out to ice the Crusader win and cement his selection as the 1A State Championship Match MVP.
Voyager Academy finished the season 17-2-3. The Vikings were 10-0-0 as the champions of the Triangle North 1A Conference. The Vikings won the Eastern Regional final for the second time in program history, returning the State Finals for the first time since 2018.
Christ the King concluded the year 22-1-0. The Crusaders collected the conference title in the Catawba Shores Athletic 1A posting a perfect 10-0-0 record. The Crusaders won the program’s first State Championship and second regional title. They reached the State Finals for the first time since falling in the 2019 1A Final to Franklin Academy 3-2.
The NCHSAA is committed to promoting good sportsmanship and has partnered with NC Farm Bureau to recognize two student-athletes from each state championship who have demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship throughout the year. The winners of the 2021 1A Men’s Soccer NC Farm Bureau Sportsmanship Awards were Marcos Frias from Christ the King and Mason Alim from Voyager Academy.
2021 3A Men’s Soccer State Championship Recap | Western Alamance edges Hickory 1-0 on late penalty
CARY, NC – After a tightly played opening 75 minutes that saw relatively few chances for either side, Western Alamance managed to generate a forward attack that drew a penalty kick. Ian Bacchus made no mistake with the shot from the penalty spot in the 76th minute, slotting the ball low in the left side to put the Warriors up 1-0 over Hickory and gave the school their first Men’s Soccer State Championship.
Bacchus drew the penalty after Gael Villegas-Duran found some space on the right side of the Hickory box. Villegas-Duran slipped a pass through a pair of Tornado defenders to the top of the penalty area and as Bacchus tried to split the defenders, he was upended in the area and forcing the referee to point to the spot.
It was fitting for Bacchus to take the penalty after drawing the foul, his speed proved a threat throughout the night, forcing Hickory defenders to collapse to him and opening lanes for other Warrior attackers. The goal was Bacchus’ 22nd goal of the season and cemented his selection as 3A State Championship Game Most Valuable Player.
Hickory managed 12 shots in the game, but only one of them got through the Warrior defense on frame, forcing Warrior goalkeeper Spencer Dee to make his only save of the night. Orlando Almanza headed the ball towards the frame on a loose ball in the edge of the Warrior penalty area, requiring the save from Dee.
Hickory wrapped up their season 22-4-1. The Red Tornadoes were 11-2-1 as the champions of the Western Foothills 3A conference. Hickory won the program’s fifth NCHSAA Regional Championship, appearing in the State Championship Match for the first time since 2012.
Western Alamance completed the year 19-5-1. The Warriors finished conference play 9-2-1 in the Central 3A. The Warriors reached the State Championship as the #21 seed in the 3A East, reaching the state final for just the second time in school history and the first time since their initial appearance in the 2A finals in 1997.
The NCHSAA is committed to promoting good sportsmanship and has partnered with NC Farm Bureau to recognize two student-athletes from each state championship who have demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship throughout the year. The winners of the 2021 3A Men’s Soccer NC Farm Bureau Sportsmanship Awards were Robbie Simpson from Western Alamance and Nick Hutto from Hickory.