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Gray Stone soccer advances to fourth round

Eighty minutes of play on Thursday night found former Uwharrie Conference members Gray Stone Day and Queen’s Grant deadlocked at 2-2.

But only four minutes into the first 10-minute overtime period, Gray Stone freshman forward Andrew Beohler delivered a perfect cross on a corner kick, and teammate Luke Hill drilled the ball low into the right side of the net for what turned out to be the winning goal in third-round NCHSAA soccer play at Nick Lefko Field in Misenheimer.

“We just came off an overtime game last night,” said Knights coach Brad Harrington amid his team’s post-game celebration, “and I could see us starting to tire tonight. But this team has a lot of heart, and they fought to the end.”

Both teams exhibited aggressive and relatively clean play throughout regulation.

Queen’s Grant struck first in the 25th minute as defender Nick Duke passed ahead to Micah Parker, who drilled a shot toward the crossbar which Knights keeper Levi Rosser appeared to have stopped. However, Rosser’s momentum carried him and the ball across the touch line resulting in a goal and a 1-0 lead.

Gray Stone answered seven minutes later when Zack Norman fed David Almond, who dribbled past two Stallion defenders and whisked the ball past keeper Jacob Goodman to tie the match, after which the teams carried the deadlock into the half.

Play early in the second half was a defensive battle, with neither squad able to mount any significant attack.

That changed, however, at the 24th minute when Chase Viscomi took control of a loose ball at the top of the penalty box and rifled it into the net for a short-lived Knights lead.

Four minutes after Viscomi’s heroics, Queen’s Grant defender Carter Massey took the ball near midfield and dribbled ahead a few yards before booting a laser from around 45 yards out. The blast split the Knights defenders and tied the match for a second time.

For the remainder of regulation, each team managed four shots on goal, all of which missed the mark, leading to the Beohler-to-Hill connection in the first overtime period.

The remaining 14 minutes of play were uneventful, with Gray Stone exhibiting strong defense against a hard-charging Stallion attack.

“We moved the ball well tonight,” Harrington added after the game. “And getting the go-ahead goal early in overtime was big. The two teams out here tonight are pretty even.”

Gray Stone will travel to Columbus to face the Polk County Wolverines at 5 p.m. Saturday in the west region semifinals.
Polk was the second-place finisher in the Western Highlands Conference, a split 1A-2A league, and entered the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the west.

The Wolverines defeated Union Academy Thursday to advance, and will enter Saturday’s match with a record of 14-10-1. Gray Stone holds a 16-7-1 record following Thursday’s win.

Saturday’s victor will play the winner of the North Moore – Community School of Davidson match, which will be played on Saturday at Davidson.

Toby Thorpe is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.