11/02/04 — Seven area soccer teams begin quest for a state championship

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Seven area soccer teams begin quest for a state championship

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on November 2, 2004 1:56 PM

Banner seasons.

Whether as a team, individuals, or both, most of the area boys' prep soccer programs put up huge regular-season numbers in some capacity.

They'll try to continue those strides when the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs begin Wednesday.

In the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference, Eastern Wayne (13-4) set a school record for conference wins (10) in a season since the formation of the ECC in 2001. The Warriors, who earned the conference's No. 2 seed, host South Johnston on Wednesday and are the only Wayne County team at home in the opening round.

Eastern Wayne graduated the likes of Julian Graham and Grady McDonnell, but Andrew Corley's 16 goals and seven assists paced a quick, balanced attack that had eight players score three or more goals. Joe Gossett has added 11 goals and six assists.

"The outlook was to have a rebuilding year with some of the graduates we lost," Eastern Wayne coach Jorg Wagner said. "A lot of our attack graduated, but the players who came back responded well. It was ironic that we have our best season, but so does West Carteret."

Warrior goalie Steven Stackhouse leads a defense that turned in six shutouts this season.

Staying in the ECC, Charles B. Aycock sophomore Garrett Davis finished with a school-record 38 goals and dished out a team-high 19 assists for the young Falcons (12-8), who fashioned a 6-6 mark in ECC play. Aycock's Jorge Delgado added 13 goals and 12 assists.

"Myself and Byron (Adkins) are quite pleased overall," Aycock coach Kevin Adkins said. "With just three or four returning after graduating 10 seniors, I don't think 12-8 is that bad of a record. We would have hoped it we would be higher, but we gave away games to Washington and South Central.

"We are looking forward to the playoffs."

In the Carolina/Super Six 1-A Conference, James Kenan (16-2-2) earned the top seed with an 11-0-1 mark, with North Johnston (18-3-2) finishing a close second at 10-1-1. Both have been consistently ranked among the top seven in the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association poll through the season.

The Tigers were paced by goal scorers Demetrio Barrera (47 goals) and Hector Bermudez (39 goals). Bermudez needs just three goals to tie Hector's brother, Roberto, for the school record with 50 goals in a season. Kenan goalie Alexis Barralaga and the Tiger defense turned in 11 shutouts.

James Kenan has outscored its opposition by over six goals per contest.

The Panthers' Jake Lomonaco closed out the regular season with a school, single-season record 46 goals, while dishing out 13 assists. Teammate Raul Farfan has a single-season record 16 assists to go with 12 goals.

"I can't say enough about the way these guys have responded," said North Johnston coach Brent Walston, who's team is hosting a playoff game for the first time in school history. "They knew we had the potential to have a good season, but this exceeds everybody's expectations. We still hope we can show some things in the playoffs."

Rosewood (11-10-1 overall) tallied an 8-4 record in conference action as Joey Churchwell led the Eagles offensively. The Eagles' only four conference losses came to Kenan and North Johnston. Rosewood goalie Antell Richards has been reliable all season, while Brandon Hietpas paces his team in the midfield.

The Eagles won their first-ever playoff game last season, defeating Topsail in overtime in the first round.

"I think it was big for us to win our first-round game last year," Rosewood coach Daniel Mitchell said. "They know the atmosphere, intensity and effort you need to give to be successful. That could be big for us this week."

Spring Creek takes a 4-12 overall worksheet into its first-round tilt against Durham School of the Arts -- to be played at Southern Durham High School. The Bulldogs (10-8-1 overall) were unbeaten and unscored upon during Tar Roanoke Conference play.

Jonathan Reyes, Ricardo Ramirez, and Juan Ramirez have paced the Gator scoring attack, as Jose Escobar has stepped in well for Randy Amos, who graduated, in goal.

"The team as a whole has continually improved this year," Gators' coach Christy Shivar said. "Although we have not done as well as we would have liked, the team has improved and we are looking forward to next year's team."

North Lenoir (12-6-2) -- the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference champion -- was the only team in the area to receive a first-round bye. The Hawks, who were led by Josh Williams' 17 goals and five assists, face the winner of Western Alamance (10-4-1) and Southern Guilford (14-6) in the second round in Wheat Swamp on Saturday.

North Lenoir and goalie Douglas Beal have blanked eight opponents and finished 6-2 in the EPC.

"These kids have had a great year," Hawks' coach Jim Montague said. "They hang around each other, and we had guys playing positions they weren't really accustomed to.

"They weren't flashy. They just did their job very well."