Prep Soccer: Statesville shuts out Hickory, advances to Elite Eight
FROM STAFF REPORTS
Statesville's defense turned in a dominating performance Wednesday night as the Greyhounds blanked visiting Hickory High 3-0 to advance to NCHSAA Class 3A regional semifinals.
The red-hot Red Tornadoes began play Wednesday with a 13-game winning streak, but saw their season end the same way it began -- with a road loss to Statesville.
Playing on a muddy field in a light drizzle, the Greyhounds controlled possession from the opening whistle and grabbed the lead when senior Toni Pineda beat four Hickory defenders and drove a low shot past the visiting keeper in the game's 28th minute.
Pineda's second goal of the night, about two minutes into the second half, gave the Greyhounds some breathing room, and Landon Wilhelm's goal in the game's 66th minute sealed the outcome for Statesville.
Sam Johnson assisted on two goals for Statesville, and Julian Eldridge added an assist.
"Even with the bad field conditions, we were able to dominate possession and move the ball on the ground," Greyhounds coach Eric Hanson said. "The entire team worked hard, which I believe is the reason for our dominant performance."
"Hickory was a strong team and deserved to be there," he added. "Our defense did a great job of shutting down their goal scorers."
Defenders Ross Garrison, Hunter Wilhelm, Jesus Martinez and Dawson Sprinkle were solid in the backline all night, preventing several shots during the Greyhounds' fourth straight shutout and ninth consecutive win overall. Keeper Josh Fuhrman made seven saves for his 12th clean sheet of the season.
The Greyhounds (21-3-2), the No. 3 seed in the West Region, will travel to Waxhaw on Saturday night to face defending state champion Marvin Ridge (19-3-1) with a berth in the Class 3A Final Four on the line.
Like Statesville, Marvin Ridge, the No. 2 seed in the West, has pitched three shutouts on its home field to reach the regional semifinals. The Mavericks beat Central Cabarrus (5-0) and South Iredell (5-0) before eliminating conference rival Charlotte Catholic (3-0) on Wednesday night.
"It will be a tough game," Hanson said. "But in order to be on top, you have to take out the guys who are already there."