Mistake hurts C.B. Aycock
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 23, 2009 1:46 PM
FOUR OAKS -- One man's garbage is another man's treasure.
And this was a prized booty.
Edgar Herrera's second-half conversion on a defensive miscue was all South Johnston needed to turn back Charles B. Aycock 1-0 and claim its first-ever Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference men's soccer championship Thursday evening.
The Trojans (15-4-1, 10-0-0 ECC) did what no other team has accomplished in four-plus seasons in ECC play -- dethrone the Golden Falcons as the regular-season champions. Aycock (15-3-1, 8-2-0) had won an unprecedented four consecutive crowns until losing the regular-season series to South Johnston.
"We're very happy right now," said Trojans coach Jeremy Byrd.
South Johnston clinched the No. 1 seed and an opening-round bye for the ECC tournament, which begins Saturday with quarterfinal-round matches. The Trojans and Golden Falcons, the No. 2 seed, will play semifinal matches at home Monday.
"I'm proud of the boys and think they played excellent ... a hard loss," said Aycock head coach Kevin Adkins.
Aycock defenders kept Herrera closely marked throughout the first half and didn't allow the senior striker to get an open look at the net. Herrera misfired on three shot attempts from tough angles on each side of the 18-yard box.
The Trojans, winners of 12 straight games, held a 6-2 shots advantage in the opening 40 minutes. However, the teams entered halftime embroiled in a scoreless draw.
South Johnston aggressively attacked Aycock after intermission and quickly drew a foul. Herrera set up for an indirect free kick about 25 yards out and curled the ball around the wall toward the near post.
Golden Falcons keeper Brandon Davis (seven saves) dove and batted the line-drive shot over the end line, giving the Trojans a corner kick. South Johnston couldn't capitalized on the set piece, but quickly benefited when Aycock failed to clear the ball upfield.
Cameron Wood intercepted the ball, delivered a one-touch pass to Herrera as Davis came charging off his line. Herrera side-stepped the sliding Davis and ripped a low liner toward the far post, giving him 60 goals for the season.
"I knew it wasn't going to be like last time," said Byrd of South Johnston's overtime win in Pikeville just 10 days ago. "We just had to find one mistake, capitalize on it and that's all it takes. He (Herrera) is an amazing young man."
Aycock managed to get looks on goal in the final 10 minutes of regulation, but couldn't finish. Trojans keeper Dolton Bledsoe earned his sixth shutout of the season.
"One mistake," said Adkins. "Tonight we didn't give up and played the full 80 minutes. We'll just have to see what happens in the conference tournament."