11/06/05 — Cards come back to down Aycock

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Cards come back to down Aycock

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on November 6, 2005 2:29 AM

PIKEVILLE -- Halftime of a soccer match is designated for teams to rest, rehydrate and discuss strategy for the second half of play.

On Saturday night at Charles B. Aycock, coach Byron Adkins almost wished there wasn't an intermission in his teams' matchup with Jacksonville in the second round of the Class 3-A N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

The Golden Falcons took a 2-0 lead into halftime, only to see the Cardinals come out energized in the second half -- seizing the momentum on their way to a 3-2 win.

"Maybe we shouldn't have had halftime. We took a break, and I think our momentum was shot," Adkins said. "We were the better team in the first half and they were the better team in the second half."

"Still, it was a well-played game tonight ... entertaining for everyone who was here."

Jacksonville (12-7-1), a wild card team, will return to Wayne County next week to face Eastern Wayne (12-6-2) in an eastern regional semifinal contest. The Warriors, the No. 3 seed from the Eastern Carolina Conference, topped Wilson Fike 2-1 on Saturday in Wilson.

Charles B. Aycock concluded the season at 13-7 overall after capturing the ECC regular season and tournament championship for the first time in school history.

"It's been a great year for us ... winning the conference and winning the tournament," Adkins said. "Winning a playoff game would have been even better if we could have matched up with Eastern Wayne again."

The second frame may have belonged to the Cardinals, but the Falcons came out poised in the first half.

On his fourth long throw in the first 11 minutes, Aycock junior Garrett Davis tossed a throw-in into the box as fellow junior Carson Sasser got a foot on a loose ball and knocked it home to make it 1-0.

With less than two minutes left in the half, Davis fired another long throw into the box -- this time from nearly 40 yards out. Senior Taylor Beamon ran onto the throw, and with his back toward the goal, flicked the shot with his head inside the near post and past Jacksonville goalie Ross Willard to give Aycock a 2-0 advantage at halftime.

"That throw-in is a weapon. It's unbelievable. We didn't make good decisions on it, but it's dangerous and he can pin-point it," Jacksonville coach Dave Miller said.

The Cardinals, who outshot Aycock 6-4 in the first half, had chances, but most of their attempts proved to be from near or outside the 18-yard box. Jacksonville's Jeremy Cross' header at the 24-minute mark hit the top post and bounce out -- proving to be the Cards most dangerous shot on goal.

After halftime, Jacksonville quickly went to work on the Falcons' margin.

On the first of his three goals, sophomore Adam Cunningham received a long ball inside the box from the midfield and toe-poked it to the back post just as Aycock senior goalie Jake Bunn came off of his line to contest the shot, cutting the lead to 2-1 just two minutes after intermission.

Despite facing shot-after-shot, Bunn proved up to the task during the early and middle stages of the second half. During the first 15 minutes of the second, the Cardinals had a 6-1 edge in shots and had four corners to Aycock's none.

Cunningham eventually evened the match with 10 minutes left with a right-footed shot, sliding from his knees in the heart of the Falcon defense to knock a goal back post.

Five minutes later, Cunningham completed his hat trick. The sophomore settled a ball at the top of the box to his right foot, then blasted a low shot that hit the inside of the right post and bounced into the net -- pushing the score to its final margin.

Inside the final two minutes, Aycock had a flurry of chances to challenge Jacksonville's lead.

Davis launched one more long throw and Alex Rodriguez had a corner from the right wing, before Davis rocketed a long shot from the left wing in the waning seconds. The Cardinal defense cleared the first two, while Willard saved Davis' shot to secure his teams' win.

Adkins praised the efforts of his seven seniors -- Bennett Jeffreys, Justin Hankins, Jeffrey Mullins, Tyler Mills, Danny Derwitz, Beamon and Bunn in helping lead Aycock to uncharted territory in boys' soccer.

"It's my first graduating class, and I'll definitely miss them next year," Adkins said. "We've got a good corps of boys coming back, and I think we can be right back in the same place."