By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Thursday, October 31, 2013 —
The high school state soccer playoffs kicked off on Wednesday as the four Stanly County squads that fielded a team this season all reached the playoffs.
Albemarle and Gray Stone both had home matches, while West Stanly and North Stanly were on the road.
1A State Playoffs
Queen’s Grant 1
The Bulldogs finished the regular season in third place in the Yadkin Valley Conference West standings behind Gray Stone and Union Academy.
Right behind Albemarle by one game in the standings was the Queen’s Grant Stallions.
The two teams each earned 1-0 wins at the other’s home field during the regular season, and after the state playoff brackets were announced, the two teams faced off for a third matchup on Wednesday, with the No. 7 seeded Bulldogs hosting the No. 10 Stallions.
After a scoreless first half, the Bulldogs got two second-half goals from Adam Yang and won the third installment of the trilogy by a score of 2-1.
Both teams had offensive chances in the first half, including in the 11th minute when a header by Aaron Lechner off a corner kick just went over the crossbar.
Ross Plyler had a scoring chance in the first half in the 28th minute but fired a shot just wide.
Joe Piacesi put the Stallions (13-9-1) up 1-0 in the 50th minute with a goal, but the Bulldogs (12-9) answered five minutes later.
Adam Yang took a through ball from Evan McDow, gathered the ball back from the endline and scored off his left foot to tie the match 1-1 in the 55th minute.
Yang struck again in the 66th minute with a laser off of his foot from 25 yards out, with the assist going to Ross Plyler, to put the Bulldogs up 2-1.
The Albemarle defense, including goalkeeper Donnie Hall, kept the Stallions off the board despite several strong offensive chances created by Queens’ Grant, to earn the victory.
Albemarle travels to North Moore (16-3-1) on Saturday for a rematch. The Bulldogs beat the Mustangs 5-4 earlier this season.
Gray Stone 4
The Knights scored two minutes into their first-round playoff game against the Atkins High School Camels and easily cruised to the next round of the playoffs with a 4-0 victory on Wednesday at Gray Stone.
Brandon Fortin scored in the second minute for the Knights (17-3-3), assisted by John Latimer.
Sean Lavook extended the Gray Stone lead to two goals 20 minutes later, also assisted by Latimer, and the Knights led 2-0 at halftime.
In the second half, Mason Shell scored two minutes into the frame, assisted by Isaiah Wingeier-Rayo, then Fortin scored his second goal of the game three minutes later. Fortin’s second goal was assisted by Latimer, his third assist of the game.
Gray Stone hosts East Montgomery (15-4-1) on Saturday afternoon. In the previous matchup this season, the two teams played to a 2-2 tie.
2A State Playoffs
West Stanly 1
A late-season push by the Colts with three wins in the team’s four final regular-season games gave West a berth into the 2A West Region as the No. 27 seed.
The Colts went on the road to Chase High School in Forest City to take on the No. 6-seeded Trojans, and played the higher seed in what turned into a defensive struggle.
West tied the match in the first half but a goal midway through the second proved to be the difference in a 2-1 loss.
After Chase (16-3-1) scored midway through the first half, the Colts (8-9-1) answered in the 34th minute. A pass from Edgar Olea, created a 1-on-1 opportunity for Brady Ennis, who notched his 23rd goal of the season to tie the match 1-1. Olea was credited with his fifth assist of the season.
In the second half, both teams had offensive opportunities until the Trojans scored on a header and held off West’s late offensive push to advance to the second round.
“We started slow but recovered nicely by picking up the pace and working to even it up at the half. Our defense played strong and both teams created opportunities that really could have pushed the match either way,” West head coach Lee Ennis said.
“I'm proud of our effort and I think the seniors should be content with the work they put in down the stretch securing the playoff seeding and the close match tonight.”