Skyland – A.C. Reynolds all-state goalkeeper Sean Green would not give up a goal — not in a 1-0 quadruple overtime triumph at arch-rival T.C. Roberson in 4A playoff round two on Nov. 4.
That thriller was the jewel of playoffs for local teams — all of whom are eliminated. Reynolds, North Henderson and Enka advanced furthest — reaching three playoff rounds — among Buncombe and Henderson soccer teams.
In 3A, sixth seed North Henderson (16-4-3) beat Tuscola 2-0 and Forestview 5-1 but then lost 1-0 at third seed Hickory Nov. 8. NHHS Knights won the Mountain Seven crown at 10-1-1. Their sole M7 defeat was 1-0 in two OTs to rival East Henderson (7-13-3) on Sept. 27.
Enka (13-11-1) also reached three rounds in 3A. The Jets beat Atkins 4-1 then North Buncombe (7-7-4) by 3-2, before falling 5-3 to East Lincoln. Senior Noel Diaz-Moreno led Enka with 29 goals.
In 2A, West top seed HHS (18-2-1) obliterated East Gaston 9-0 but then lost 2-0 in round two to the Community School of Davidson. That huge, pace-grinding squad looked more like Davidson College. HHS won the new Mountain Foothills league’s title at 12-0.
Bearcat junior Cooper King led the way with 39 goals in this season. King scored four goals and Nick Hampton tallied twice in the playoff opener. King’s four goals and two assists in that opener earned him one of the two statewide NCHSAA Performance of the Week awards Powered by OrthoCarolina that are for all high school sports.
West 2A seventh seed Owen (17-3) beat West Caldwell 6-1, then lost 6-4 to Lincoln Charter. The Warhorses won the Western Highlands title with a perfect 10-0 mark.
Though ACR (18-4-2) lost 3-1 to South Mecklenburg on Nov. 8, fans will instead remember this season for the four-OT thriller. There were 80 regulation minutes. Next was a pair of ten-minute overtimes, to see if one team outscored the other after a full OT. Neither side scored. So it went to five-minute sudden-death OTs. The first was scoreless. The sole goal came midway into that second “golden goal” period. It was credited to junior Moises Diaz, as the last person on the attacking team to kick/handle the ball. It was his 13th goal this fall. His corner kick from the left corner swooped in to in front of the net on the near side. A Ram defender inadvertently deflected the ball up, off the crossbar, then down into the net. That is called an “own” (self-scoring) goal. Ram players looked horrified after realizing the ball went into their net.
“We were working hard” in the TCR zone, Diaz said. “I felt something good was going to happen.” It did. Leading Rocket scorer Cyrus Ager (19 goals) said that “we always fight back. The second halves (and OTs usually) are ours.”
Savior Sean Green
Green’s save of the game was diving to the net’s left edge, to deflect Dorian Sepulveda‘s penalty kick in the first golden goal OT. Ram master passer Jack Cunigan (20 assists) drew TCR’s penalty kick when he dribbled into the box, elbowed defender James Black, then they both collapsed to the ground. The call went TCR’s way.
The golden omen for this golden goal of a night was when Green did not let in any teammates’ shots in that game’s warmup shooting drills. Ager noted that was unusually good even for Green, a lanky junior with quick reflexes and calm focus. Thus Ager accurately sensed fellow co-captain “Sean wasn’t going to let one by him tonight.”
Green shrugs off his spectacular save as guessing the right direction the shooter is about to go to. Yet that takes sharp split-second recognition of the shooter’s body motion that tips off where the shot is going.
“Sean’s a great goalie,” ACR head coach Patrick Gladys said of his keeper who was 3A all-state as a sophomore. “We showed much grit and determination” to win the nail-biter over an arch-rival.
Rams Won MAC
Coach Josh Martin’s Roberson Rams (16-4-2) had three scoring chances in a row after that majestic penalty kick save but still could not solve Green. Leading Ram scorer Brady Buckner (22 goals) was out of town, and missed this game.
Meanwhile Ram goalie Kai Runyon, a junior, made a great save on Ager’s breakaway shot. Coach Gladys calls husky senior Ager his “bull.” Ager said, “this is a physical game.” Heavy contact was allowed by officials for much of the second half.
Reynolds’ dramatic 1-0 win over Roberson was a deja vu of its 1-0 double-OT victory over TCR to conclude the regular season on Oct. 25. That was TCR’s only Mountain Athletic Conference defeat. The Rams still won the crown — at 11-1. ACR was 10-2, with Asheville (13-5-2 overall) third at 8-3-1.
Reynolds opened the playoffs by beating East Forsyth 4-1. Roberson disposed of another Reynolds — R.J. Reynolds of Winston-Salem — by 1-0 to open playoffs Nov. 1. But in round two, A.C. Reynolds prevailed over Roberson by that same 1-0 score.