Prep Soccer: Defending champs end Greyhounds' playoff run
FROM STAFF REPORTS
Statesville's quest for a Class 3A state soccer championship came to an end Saturday night as the Greyhounds were defeated 2-0 by Marvin Ridge in the fourth round of the NCHSAA playoffs.
The Mavericks (20-3-1) turned the Greyhounds' inability to clear the ball from in front of their own goal into scores in the game's 26th and 61st minutes and held the potent Statesville offense at bay.
The Greyhounds had several good chances in the opening half but either missed the mark or directed their shots into the arms of freshman keeper Matt Semcesen.
"We came into the game prepared and I thought we looked like the better team in the first half," Statesville coach Eric Hanson said. "We had multiple chances in front of the goal. Unfortunately, none of them reached the back of the net."
The Greyhounds' defense, led by junior Ross Garrison, prevented several additional scoring chances for the Mavericks. Statesville keeper Josh Fuhrman also recorded seven saves.
The loss marked the end of another solid season for Statesville (21-4-2), which went undefeated in the North Piedmont Conference en route to a fourth straight conference title before shutting out Kings Mountain, North Gaston and Hickory in the first three rounds of the playoffs.
"It's really a bitter end to a very successful season," Hanson said. "I hope the team are proud of what they accomplished and can take away many positive memories from this season. As always, I feel really bad for the seniors, such a great group of talented young men. But I can be positive about the future of the team, we have a lot of young talent that will be back next season."
Seniors Toni Pineda (68 goals, 17 assists) and Sam Johnson (13 goals, 43 assists) led a powerful offensive attack that scored 122 goals and earned the No. 3 seed in the West Region of the playoffs. Another senior, Austin Labertone, added seven goals and three assists.
Despite losing a potent senior class, the Greyhounds will return a solid nucleus from this team in 2018-19. Junior defenders Dawson Sprinkle, Hunter Wilhelm and Garrison, along with Fuhrman (12 shutouts and 179 saves) will return. A trio of sophomores, Landon Wilhelm (9 goals, 1 assist), Garrett Potemry (6 goals, 9 assists) and Jamie Woodard (6 goals, 2 assists) will also be back.
"I am positive about the future of Statesville Soccer and feel the winning tradition we have created will continue for a while," Hanson said.
Marvin Ridge, the defending Class 3A champs, will face A.C. Reynolds in the West Regional finals on Tuesday. The winner of that game will square off against the winner of the Chapel Hill-Lee County game in the state championship.