Four Titles Up for Grabs in Men's Soccer

CARY — Four championships will be up for grabs this weekend in the annual North Carolina High School Athletic Association's state men's soccer championships at the Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Soccer Stadium at the Paul Derr Track facility on the campus of North Carolina State University.

Four games are set for Saturday, starting with the 3-A title match at 10 a.m., followed by the 2-A at 1p.m., the 1-A final at 4 p.m., and then the 4-A championship starting at 7:30 p.m. This will be the 10th year for four separate classified championships.

A couple of game times were switched from previously announced because of a number of schools in the state soccer finals were hosting state playoff football games on Friday night as well.

All four of the games will be televised by Time Warner Cable and available on Carolina on Demand, digital channel 199 or 1047 on Time Warner systems across the state, within a couple of days after the championships.

Saturday's first game is for the 3-A crown as perennial power Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (22-1-2) takes on the Red Tornadoes of Hickory (25-1-2). Gibbons is in the state finals for the fifth time in the last six seasons and hasn't lost since August 28, when it fell to Charlotte Latin.

The Crusaders, a team with great balance, have five players with at least 10 goals, led by junior Tyler Zimmerman with 18. Hickory is back in the men's finals for the first time since 2001 and gets great play from Northwestern Conference Offensive Player of the Year Adam Betzwieser. Michael Delong leads Hickory's goal scorers with 31.

The 2-A championship at 1 p.m. pits defending champion Shelby (21-3-2) against East Duplin (21-2-4), in the finals for the first time.

Shelby's offense is sparked by Jerry Zeller and Ben Cheaney and the Golden Lions have scored 24 goals in five state playoff matches. East Duplin, enjoying its best season in school history, edged Carrboro 2-1 in the regional finals. The Panthers' top scorer is Javier Murillo with 15 goals.

The 1-A championship will send the North Carolina School of Science and Math (20-1) against Hendersonville (25-2-1), which makes its second consecutive appearance in the final after beating Dixon 3-0 for the state championship a year ago. NCSSM won the 2007 1-A crown in its only previous men's soccer title appearance.

Senior forward Brayan Aguirre paces the Hendersonville attack. He had a hat trick in a 4-2 win over Kernersville Bishop McGuinness in the regional finals and is one of the state's all-time leading scorers with 154 career goals. Gino Lerebours of NCSSM, which has come from behind to win its last two playoff games, is the Carolina 10 Conference Player of the Year.

The 4-A championship Saturday night will send the unbeaten Falcons of Durham Jordan (24-0) against once-beaten Charlotte Myers Park (25-1). Jordan is 2-0 in previous finals, with titles in 2001 and 1990, while Myers Park is in the championship match for the fourth time with a 1-2 finals record, as the Mustangs won the '08 4-A crown.

Jordan's veteran team has 19 seniors on the roster, led by PAC-Six Conference Player of the year Teddy Mullin. The Falcons have been so dominant that only two of their games on the season have been decided by a single goal.

Myers Park enters the final with a 16-match winning streak and has three proven scorers in Erick Suarez, Ali Hussein and Jack Barnett on a squad that has scored 137 goals on the year.

Tickets will be eight dollars at the gate. Wendy's is the presenting sponsor of the NCHSAA sports program. The Raleigh Sports Consortium serves as a host city sponsor for these championships, along with the city of Raleigh and the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors' Bureau.

Schedule

Class 3-A: 10 a.m.
Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons High School Crusaders (22-1-2) vs. Hickory High School Red Tornadoes (25-1-2)

Class 2-A: 1 p.m.
East Duplin High School Panthers (21-2-4) vs. Shelby High School Golden Lions (21-3-2)

Class 1-A: 4 p.m.
Durham North Carolina School of Science and Math Unicorns (20-1) vs. Hendersonville High School Bearcats (25-2-1)

Class 4-A: 7:30 p.m.
Durham Jordan High School Falcons (24-0) vs. Charlotte Myers Park High School Mustangs (25-1)


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