Statesville coach Eric Hanson embraces Camilo Restrepo after the Greyhounds beat South Iredell on Thursday night.
E. Rowan @ Statesville, 6 pm
Prep Soccer Roundup: Greyhounds edge NPC champs
Statesville players and coaches pose for a photo after knocking off NPC champion South Iredell on Thursday. (Photos/Jaclyn Deal)
FROM STAFF REPORTS
Statesville scored a pair of second-half goals Thursday night to rally past North Piedmont Conference champion South Iredell and spoil Senior Night for the Vikings.
South Iredell (13-2-5), which had not lost since a 3-1 defeat to Newton-Conover on August 15, was looking to finish the NPC with a perfect 10-0 record and improve its playoff seeding. Statesville (10-7-3) needed a win to solidify its hold on second place in the conference and keep its hopes alive for an automatic playoff berth.
The Vikings seized the lead in the match's third minute when the Greyhounds defense failed to clear a ball in the box, creating an opportunity for South Iredell senior Mason Hungerter to blast a shot past Statesville keeper Josh Fuhrman for a goal.
"We went down 0-1 very early in the game, which could have deflated us from the start. But the guys kept playing hard and limited South to few very few offensive chances in the first half," Statesville coach Eric Hanson said. "I challenged the team during halftime to give it all they had for the final 40 minutes and to get some quality shots on goal."
The Greyhounds came out of intermission re-energized and got the equalizer in the 44th minute when Jamie Woodard took a pass from Camilo Restrepo and smashed a shot through Vikings goalkeeper Gabriel Mack's legs for a score.
"That goal gave us some life and certainly turned the momentum our way, where we kept pressure on the South defense," Hanson said.
Woodard returned the favor in the match's 58th minute when he flicked a pass to a hard-charging Restrepo, who ran through the Vikings defense and whipped a shot that caromed off Mack and into the net for the game-winner for Statesville.
"Camilo came up big for the third time in three games, picking up his third straight game-winning goal," Hanson said. "It's really amazing how he has been performing. I'm so happy for him and the team."
The Greyhounds shifted to a more defensive formation in the final 20 minutes and thwarted the Vikings' chances to tie the match, including a point-blank shot that hit hit the post before being cleared by the Greyhounds in the waning minutes. Fuhrman was credited with nine saves.
Statesville has now won four consecutive matches and seven out of their past eight. The Greyhounds finish the regular season on Monday when East Rowan visits for Senior Night.
The Vikings, who ended the Greyhounds streak of winning four consecutive NPC titles, have earned a top-eight seed in the West Region of the Class 3A playoffs and at least two home games.
"South played a solid game and are a good team," Hanson said. "Congrats to them on being conference champs this year, but I think we proved tonight that they are not necessarily the best team in the conference. This game was decided by the two teams on the field and not a controversial referee call."
October 24 Matches
►Statesville 2, West Rowan 1: Junior Camilo Restrepo scored the game-winner in the match's 75th minute as the Greyhounds ruined Senior Night for the host Falcons on Wednesday evening.
Statesville grabbed an early lead when Landon Wilhelm scored in the match's third minute, but West Rowan (4-14-2 overall; 3-7 NPC) would not go quietly into the offseason.
The Falcons outpossessed the Greyhounds for much of the game and got the equalizer in the match's 61st minute when senior Sebastian Trujillo lobbed a shot over Statesville keeper Josh Fuhrman that dipped just below the crossbar and into the net.
Statesville picked up the intensity in the next 10 minutes and Restrepo's clutch goal allowed the Greyhounds to maintain their hold on second place in the NPC heading into Thursday's pivotal match with rival South Iredell.
Fuhrman finished with seven saves, and Garrett Potemry and Jamie Woodard were credited with assists for Statesville.
With the victory, the Greyhounds improved to 9-7-3 overall and 6-2 in the NPC.
►North Iredell 6, East Rowan 0: Freshman goalkeeper Dane Coltrane recorded 10 saves and three different Raiders scored as North Iredell rebounded from two tough losses to win their regular-season finale on Wednesday.
Juan Nieto had a hat-trick for the Raiders, Keller Portillo put the ball in the net twice and Froylan Luna added a score as the Raiders completed a season sweep of the Mustangs (5-14-2 overall; 1-8 NPC).
Nieto, Luna, Portillo, Zach Pope, Junior Chavez and Patrick Frye were credited with assists for North Iredell.
The win followed a tough 3-0 defeat to South Iredell and a loss to Statesville in a PK shootout after the teams played to a scoreless tie.
With the victory, the Raiders finished the regular season 13-6-1 overall and 7-3 in the NPC. Based on the NCHSAA Adjusted Maxpreps Ratings, they will likely receive an at-large bid in the playoffs.