Prep soccer playoffs -- Kenan moves on to regional final
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on November 11, 2004 1:55 PM
WARSAW -- Four great individual plays. One big win for the James Kenan soccer program.
The Tigers scored four goals in the final 36 minutes to claim a 4-1 win over Topsail in the Class 1-A N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern regional semifinals.
All four came on long passes from the defense or midfield ahead to a trio of potent Kenan forwards -- dashing up the left side of the field facing one-on-one situations. The Tigers had just five shots in the second half and put away all but one.
Hector Bermudez scored the first two at the 44 and 65th minute mark, respectively, while Demetrio Barrera and Alfredo Martinez posted the final two goals after Topsail (19-4-1) pulled closer at 2-1.
"They were pressing up, and I don't think they expected that to come from our offense," James Kenan coach Steve le Roux said. "Four great individual goals ... these guys have great skills, so all credit to them."
The final margin shows a three-goal advantage for Kenan, but most of the contest -- pitting two teams with a combined 37 wins coming in -- was played under a much tighter scenario.
The Tigers (19-2-2) finally broke through in the scoreless tie at the 36 minute mark when Bermudez received a punt from goalie Alex Barralaga on a long bounce. Bermudez, Kenan's second-leading scorer, took several dribbles, then fired a shot under an out-stretched Topsail goalie.
The goal seemed to inspire the Pirates, who matched Kenan's speed with a frantic, end-to-end style of soccer in the second half. After not having a corner kick in the first half, Topsail had two in the first 20 minutes. Still, Mario Mejia, Barralaga and the Kenan defense held their ground and kept the Pirates off of the scoreboard.
Bermudez posted his second goal nearly 20 minutes later to put his team up 2-0. Topsail didn't go away quietly.
The Pirates' quick midfielder Carter Luhring took a pass from the left wing deep in the box, used a dribble to avoid a defender and scored past Barralaga back post to pull his team to within one at 2-1 with 10 minutes left.
After the goal, Luhring brought the ball all the way back to midfield and slammed it on the 50-yard line.
If it was a challenge, the Tigers answered.
Kenan's top goal scorer, Demetrio Barrera, found daylight down the left wing and lofted a shot towards goal well outside the box at the six-minute mark. The Pirate goalie was in position to make the save, but the ball sailed over his head, then quickly dropped into the side pocket to make it 3-1.
"That third one really sealed it for us," le Roux said. "I was relieved, because they scored their goal and they were fired up."
The Tigers put the icing on the win in the final minute as Alfredo Martinez matched Barrerra's goal with a similar shot from the left wing. Kenan, a team that outscored its opponents by over 100 goals during the regular season, is outscoring playoff opposition 17-2.
The first half was mired in a stifling defensive battle. Kenan sweeper Mejia and Topsail's David Sanders and Mario Yepes proved tough as both back lines contained the usually potent offenses. The Tigers had just four shots in the first half, while Topsail had three.
"We weren't winning the game, but we weren't losing either," le Roux said. "I told them to stay patient and keep pushing and pressing and it's going to come. That's not always easy, but I'm glad they were able to do that."
The win sets up a battle with Lejeune in Warsaw on Saturday in a match between a pair of conference champions. The Tigers, who were eliminated by the Devilpups (17-3-1) in the third round last season, went 1-0-1 against Lejeune during this regular season.
2004 N.C. High School
Athletic Association Class 1-A
Playoffs -- East semifinals
(at James Kenan HS)
Topsail 0 1 -- 1
James Kenan 0 4 -- 4
JK -- Bermudez, 44:00
JK -- Bermudez, 65:60
THS -- Luhring, 70:09
JK -- Barrera, 74:30
JK -- Martinez, 79:00
Shots 8 10
Corner kicks 4 4
Offsides 0 6
Fouls 13 15
Saves -- Topsail -- 6. James Kenan -- Barralaga 5.
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