1-A soccer playoffs -- Devilpups survive Tigers in OT
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on November 14, 2004 2:01 AM
WARSAW -- The final whistle sounded Saturday afternoon at Bill Taylor Field, signaling the end of James Kenan's best soccer season in school history after a heart-breaking 2-1 loss to Lejeune in overtime in the Class 1-A N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern regional final.
The Devilpup players turned, then rushed back to hug and high-five goalie David Perez. They knew he was the key reason they were able to top the Tigers and try for their second state title in three years.
In a game where Kenan outshot Lejeune 13-5, Perez had a hand full of spectacular, diving saves and made good decisions coming out of the goal all afternoon in the windy conditions.
Perez and the Pup defense also dodged their fair share of bullets as numerous shots by the Tigers hit the post through the game.
"He (Perez) was the player of the year two years ago when we won the state and he definitely stepped it up tonight," Lejeune coach Glen Davis said. "He was the best he has been all year today. Our defense basically won this game."
Still, coach Steve le Roux and his Carolina/Super-Six Conference champ Tigers finished the season with a 19-3-3 mark and advanced further in the postseason than any soccer team ever at the Warsaw school. There was plenty to be proud of despite the tough loss.
"We still had a great season. It was the best in the history of the school and we've broken all possible records," le Roux said. "This started two seasons ago when I first arrived. We are losing five guys, but we've got some great players coming up.
"We can only build."
The wind was clearly a factor as well. All three goals scored took place with the wind at the scoring teams' back.
Lejeune (18-3-1) struck first with 16:10 left in the first half when a long serve on a free kick near midfield slipped through the Tiger defense and Devilpup forward Daniel Griffith ran on to put the shot away from close range. Kenan was whistled for 11 fouls in the first half compared to only three called against Lejeune.
Despite taking six shots going into the wind, Kenan never managed a goal as the 1-0 score stood until halftime.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, Kenan's leading scorer Demetrio Barrera -- nursing an injured groin muscle -- finally got his team on the board. Barrera struck a loose ball near the top of the box past Perez for the Tigers' lone goal.
In the final 10 minutes of the game, Barrera had a breakaway try hit the left post. Two more Kenan shots from the right wing went over the head of Perez and appeared heading for the side pocket, but bounced hard off of the left post and back into play.
"Those were perfect chances. In another game, they would have been goals. That's just the way it goes," le Roux said.
The Devilpups didn't have a shot in the second half as Kenan sweeper Mario Mejia did a solid job of clearing.
The coin flip going into the overtime proved a huge key. Lejeune won the toss and elected to play with the wind at its back in the first 10-minute overtime half. With two minutes left in the first frame of extra time, Mark Ziegenfuss found daylight and dashed down the left wing. As the Tiger defense shifted towards him, he quickly dished to the middle to Steven Thomas, who scored easily past Kenan goalie Alexis Barralaga.
Kenan had one more shot hit the post in the second half of overtime and had two corner kicks in the final two minutes, but never equalized the game.
Seniors Hector Bermudez, Eric Cruz, Barralaga and Jose Montoya played in their final game for the black and gold.
Lejeune will face the winner of Jordan-Matthews and Surry Central in the state championship next weekend at the SAS Soccer Park in Cary.
2004 N.C. High School
Athletic Association Class 1-A
(at James Kenan HS, Warsaw)
Lejeune 1 0 1 0 -- 2
James Kenan 0 1 0 0 -- 1
LHS - Griffith (Ziegenfuss assist), 16:10
JK -- Barrera (unassisted), 25:00
First overtime half
LHS -- Thomas (Ziegenfuss assist), 2:02
Shots 5 13
Corner kicks 2 5
Offsides 2 1
Fouls 9 18
Saves -- Lejeune -- Perez 9. James Kenan -- Barralaga 2.
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