10/21/05 — NCISAA playoffs: Chargers draw No. 3 seed

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NCISAA playoffs: Chargers draw No. 3 seed

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 21, 2005 2:06 PM

Wayne Country Day hasn't forgotten last year's quarterfinal-round, home playoff loss to Village Christian. The Knights earned a stunning one-goal victory and eventually played for the state championship.

One year later, the Chargers are back in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A playoffs and seeking redemption -- only their first opponent won't be Village Christian. Wayne Country Day (12-6-1) drew an opening-round bye and faces either Faith Christian-Rocky Mount or Cary Christian next Tuesday.

Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.

The third-seeded Chargers are 0-1 in home playoff games with fourth-year head coach Michael Taylor. He, too, hasn't forgotten the disappointment of last year's elite eight appearance.

"We had home field and didn't take advantage," said Taylor. "I've told the guys we have to have a winning mentality from here on out. I had a feeling we could get a top-four seed, but if we had gotten a five or six, I would have been happy.

"(The bye) gives us an extra day of practice and gives us a chance to rest a little bit."

Wayne Country Day enters the playoffs bruised and banged up from a physically-challenging Coastal Plains Independent 1-A/2-A Conference schedule. Five of the Chargers' six league opponents received bids to either the 1-A or 2-A tournament.

Senior forward Will Futrelle collided with an official in a game earlier this week and has experienced minor discomfort in his chest. Keeper Ryan Ford tumbled over a Kerr-Vance player on Monday and attempted to break the fall with his right hand. An MRI (magnetic resonant imaging) revealed possible torn ligaments and stretched tendons, but Ford has been cleared to play.

Ford has recorded five shutouts and 209 saves in 19 outings. Meanwhile, the Charger defense has held opponents scoreless for 120 minutes. Taylor plans to move Ford to either forward or midfield, and put David Wilson in goal. Senior Hyo Won Ha will drop back to cover Wilson's defensive position.

"When I've taken Ryan out of goal, he's done some great things for us," said Taylor, who isn't too concerned with the minor lineup changes. "David has done a great job in goal, so it's good to have someone to rely on when I need him."

Faith Christian, the reigning NCISAA champion, earned a regular-season split against Wayne Country Day. The Chargers are 1-7 overall against their CPIC rival since Taylor took over the program four years ago.

"Faith is always a good team," said Taylor, whose overall record is 34-38-2. "They're well-coached, well-disciplined and know how to win. Faith has had our number here in recent years, but it doesn't matter who we play.

"We have to come out with a win."

Junior tri-captain Sam Steed, an all-state selection last season, leads the Charger offense with 23 goals and 19 assists. Futrelle has 14 goals and nine assists, while Ha has contributed 13 goals and nine assists.

Wayne Country Day averages 3.9 goals per contest and yields 1.5.

However, Taylor is concerned with his team's inability to consistently convert direct kicks and corner kicks.

"I really think it's just a matter of timing," said Taylor. "I don't know if we're not seeing spacing or lines that we need to see, but we're going to work on it in practice. We need to work on having a good first touch, controlling the ball and winning balls in the air.

"I'm asking them for three hard days of practice and to stay focused."

Notes: The Chargers are making their fifth consecutive playoff appearance. ... CPIC regular-season champion Greenfield (15-5-2) is the No. 1 seed. ... Village is the No. 2 seed and has the most wins (23) of any school in the 12-team field. ... First- and second-round games are at the higher seeds. The semifinals and finals are scheduled for Oct. 28-29 at the Burt Gillette Soccer Complex.