10/26/05 — Hunt, Aycock soccer teams reach ECC title game

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Hunt, Aycock soccer teams reach ECC title game

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 26, 2005 2:22 PM

One highly-anticipated matchup didn't materialize, but today's inaugural Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference tournament championship should be a dandy.

Second-seeded Wilson Hunt built a three-goal lead and outlasted third-seeded Eastern Wayne 4-2. Junior Garrett notched one goal and recorded two assists as regular-season champion Charles B. Aycock exploded for three second-half goals in a 4-1 conquest of upset-minded Wilson Beddingfield.

The Golden Falcons (12-6) and Hunt (16-5-2) square off today at 7 p.m. on the Eastern Wayne campus. The teams split their regular-season series with each winning on their opponent's home field.

Rich Holder and Johnny Mariano

News-Argus/Mitch Loeber

Aycock's Rich Holder (3) and Johnny Mariano (23) battle for possession during Tuesday night's match.

C.B. Aycock's victory assured Eastern Wayne (10-6-2) of securing the league's No. 3 seed for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs, which begin Nov. 2. The Warriors travel to the Coastal Conference runner-up.

The Golden Falcons hardly looked focused during first-half play against the fourth-seeded Bruins. Assistant coach Bryon Adkins feared his team might take its opponent too lightly and Beddingfield proved his concerns the first 20 minutes.

The Bruins (12-10-2) dictated the tempo and constantly disrupted Aycock's attack by stepping into open spaces for loose balls, or forcing bad passes outside the midfield.

"We just started kicking the ball with them," said Adkins. "I was really disappointed, after the Eastern Wayne game here, to see them come out and play like that."

Although an offensive rhythm never surfaced in the opening half, Aycock managed to break the scoreless tie in the 21st minute. Junior Carson Sasser gained control of a loose ball and pushed it toward the right corner flag.

Sasser sent a cross into the box to the feet of freshman Alex Rodriguez. Camped out at the near post, Rodriguez gathered the pass and easily connected on a right-footed shot to the lower left corner.

Adkins stressed the significance of having a steady passing attack in the second half.

"They came out here with a lackadaisical attitude in the first half and it showed," said Adkins. "(Ball possession) looked a little bit better in the second half, but I'm still not pleased with it.

"However, I was pleased with the second half."

Aycock converted three set pieces in the second half. Davis' throw-in from the left side bounced off Rich Holder's body and into goal in the 49th minute. Davis drilled a header into goal off Rodriguez's corner kick in 61st minute. Sasser added a goal off Davis' throw-in in the 70th minute.

Bruin freshman Omar Guerra averted the shutout with an unassisted goal in the 67th minute.

The Golden Falcons owned a 14-12 edge in shots on goal. Keepers Jake Bunn and Jared Kennedy combined for six saves.

"We've got to play much better than this against Hunt tomorrow," said Adkins. "If we don't, it's going to be a long night. We have to defend (Brian) Hooper, close him down because we gave him too much space in the last game.

"We have to pressure them, attack them and make them play us."

Hunt controlled possession in the opening half against Eastern Wayne. The visiting Warriors attacked the goal well and constantly pressured their opponents by keeping someone in the box on shot attempts.

That tenacity paid off during a key eight-minute stretch.

Senior Kris Dewald rifled a shot from outside the 18 that clanged off the crossbar and bounced toward the right side of the goal. Hooper, unmarked by the Eastern Wayne defense, picked up the loose ball and scored for the 1-0 lead.

About seven minutes later, Michael McGee collected a garbage shot inside the box after Eastern Wayne defenders failed to clear it. McGee tucked it into the net for a 2-0 advantage.

"That's been one of our problems all year long," said Eastern Wayne coach Jorg Wagner. "A ball coming to the back post or on goal ... we're not covering anything that rebounds. For that matter, we don't cover any shots that we take ourselves.

"It's a bad habit that our players have at times. Tonight we surely paid for it. Hunt realized that after a good strike on frame like that to send a second guy in because you might put it in the net."

Hooper added a third goal in the 28th minute, scoring unassisted with three blue-shirted Eastern Wayne defenders surrounding him.

Despite falling in a 3-0 hole, Wagner's sq uad continued organizing attacks and using the entire field -- length and width. The strategy began to wear Hunt down toward the end of the half, and it proved beneficial in the second 40 minutes of play.

Senior Eric Bourgeois kept possession and sent a thru ball from the right side toward junior Erik Rivera in the 48th minute. Covered by two Hunt defenders on the play, Rivera managed to squeeze a goal between the near post and keeper Zach Thomas.

Rivera provided Eastern Wayne's second goal in the 59th minute on a beautiful 18-yard shot from the right side. The ball curled into the upper portion of the net at the back post and Hunt's three-goal advantage had quickly dwindled to 3-2.

"With us, it can be a tale of two teams because we play great one game and relapse the next," said Hunt coach Scott Wofford. "We had a great first half and then the second half, it looked like we had no idea what was going on.

"A two-goal lead, even a three-goal lead, is the worst thing to have. These guys just sat back thinking they had it won. I was hoping it wasn't going to happen, but it did."

Bourgeois just missed tieing the game at 3-3 in the final 10 minutes when a header caromed off the right post. Hunt squelched any further comeback attempt on Dewald's goal, off Hooper's assist in the 72nd minute, after Eastern Wayne keeper Vince Hagedorn failed to properly clear a ball.