10/20/06 — Eagles, WCDS receive at-large bid to NCISAA 1-A playoffs

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Eagles, WCDS receive at-large bid to NCISAA 1-A playoffs

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 20, 2006 2:11 PM

After a season-ending loss against Cresset Christian, Wayne Christian men's soccer coach Darryl Anderson patted his players on the back and congratulated them on a good season.

Everyone parted ways and Anderson packed up the uniforms.

But he put them away too soon.

Despite that disappointing season-ending loss, Wayne Christian received a reprieve late Wednesday afternoon. The selection committee awarded the Eagles an at-large bid to the 2006 N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A playoffs, which begin this afternoon.

Wayne Christian (8-10-1) filled the final spot for the 12-team field and opens tournament play at fifth-seeded Faith Christian-Rocky Mount. It's the third meeting between the teams this season and kickoff is scheduled for 4 o'clock.

"When we lost to Cape Fear and then to Cresset the next game, I had no idea we'd get a bid," said a shocked Anderson.

The Eagles are one of four Carolina Christian Conference teams to receive invitations. Trinity Academy-Raleigh emerged the tournament champion and seized the league's automatic bid. Cape Fear Christian is seeded seventh overall and Cresset is the 10th seed.

"We have six losses against three teams who are among the state's top five seeds," said Anderson. "The strength of our schedule was tough."

Anderson said that Faith Christian (10-5-1) has yet to face Wayne Christian at full strength. The Eagles played a man down for 70 minutes in a 3-1 loss against the Patriots in The Brittany II. Anderson's team led 1-0 until the late stages of the game.

In their second meeting, the Eagles competed without their sweeper, who missed the game because of a red card.

"There shouldn't be a lot of pressure on my players because we have nothing to lose," said Anderson. "We haven't practiced in two weeks, so we're going to find out what happens."

Bradley Yelverton leads Wayne Christian's offense with nine goals. Keeper Eric Williams has 40-plus saves in 19 outings and received CCC Player of the Year accolades.

Wayne Christian is 0-2 all-time in its previous two playoff appearances.

Meanwhile, state-ranked Wayne Country Day (12-4-1) grabbed the No. 2 seed and an opening-round bye. The Chargers oppose either Flora MacDonald Academy or Cresset next Tuesday afternoon. Game time has tentatively been set for 4 p.m.

"This year we've played well, yet we've broken down a few times, which is to be expected throughout a season," said WCDS coach Paul Estrada. "The best thing about us is that with every game we get closer to the (state) final, our intensity grows.

"So, if I do my job properly, then by the last game we should be unstoppable."

The Chargers, however, must overcome one obstacle -- the quarterfinal round. Wayne Country Day has stumbled in the second round each of the past three seasons, and has tallied just two goals in 240 minutes of play during that stretch.

Scoring hasn't been a problem for the Chargers this season. Sam Steed, a returning all-state performer, leads the team with 24 goals. David Wilson is next with 14. Joseph Cha, Cameron Strickland and Cameron Ford have combined for 20 goals.

Overall, Wayne Country Day has outscored the opposition 77-26, which nearly averages to a 4-1 result per outing.

Jeff Franklin has dished out a team-high 14 assists, while Travis Davis has provided seven assists. The duo has been strong defensively and intercepted a combined 80 passes. Jay Grisette, George Mayo and Luxman Srikantha have also been defensive mainstays.

Keeper Ryan Ford averages four saves per game and has posted six shutouts.

"Every player has been assigned a role on the team and each one of them has embraced their responsibility very well," said Estrada. "My bench has been great on and off the field with seven goals coming from the subs. Also, all of my players get along so our team chemistry is very high."

Wayne Country Day has lost three consecutive playoff games.

Notes: CPIC champion Greenfield is the No. 1 seed overall. ... Flora MacDonald won the SEIC title and automatic bid. ... Gaston Day drew the third seed and is the SPAA champion.