11/14/09 — No. 1-ranked Dixon foils Spring Creek's regional title bid

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No. 1-ranked Dixon foils Spring Creek's regional title bid

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 14, 2009 11:05 PM

HOLLY RIDGE -- Spring Creek boldly went where no Wayne County team had ever gone before -- to the eastern regional boys' soccer finals.

Dixon made sure that's where the Gators' playoff run ended.

The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs controlled possession for most of the night and showed off their impressive offense in a 4-0 victory, and claimed the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A eastern championship.

"It was a whole different level of soccer tonight," said Spring Creek head coach Paul Estrada. "Dixon was big, physical and fast. They are senior laden and they are well coached."

The Bulldogs (19-5-1 overall) didn't take long to assert themselves on offense. A Dixon forward, in the second minute, rumbled toward the Gators' net and fired a point-blank shot that was stopped by keeper Angel Sanchez.

Three minutes later, the Dogs capitalized on their second chance. Cameron Pitz drilled a line drive off a corner kick that settled into the net.

Spring Creek (17-3-1) earned its only legitimate scoring chance of the first half when Ricardo Rangel collected a loose ball and fired a shot from just inside the 18-yard box. Bulldog keeper Brian Gendron made a leaping save and preserved his team's one-goal advantage.

Jordan Oliver added two goals for Dixon, which seized a 3-0 lead at halftime.

"They took it to us early and I don't think we were ready for that," said Estrada. "We were on our heels a little bit and their experience showed."

The Gators picked up their second-half intensity, but the Dogs never buckled. Content to ride out its lead, Dixon played tight defense and immediately cleared any ball that rolled onto its side of the midfield stripe.

Oliver completed his hat trick (three goals) in the 73rd minute.

Despite the outcome, Sanchez that emerged the star for the Gators. He tallied nine saves, including three beautiful stops on one-on-one opportunities. The Bulldogs owned a 17-6 edge in shots.

"Angel is a great keeper ... the kind of kid that can keep you in a game," said Estrada. "He has a lot of potential to play at the college level."

The Gators, who have tallied just four losses over the past two seasons, became the first team in program history to advance past the second round of the playoffs.

"I am really proud of the season we had and the kids' overall effort," said Estrada. "We are building a program and this was the next step. We will be back here again."

Dixon earned its first state-title match appearance since 2006, and was making its fourth trip to the eastern finals since 2000.