CARY — In a battle pitting the original Wake County boys’ soccer dynasty against the new one, Green Hope was defeated by Sanderson 3-0 Tuesday night in the N.C. High School Athletic Association boys’ soccer 4A East final.
Green Hope is the two-time defending champion and was playing in its sixth East final in the past seven seasons; Sanderson is an 11-time champion that advanced to its 14th trip to the state final.
It was the end of the year for the Falcons, who had taken pride in how they had become a family during the season, making “family” the team’s mantra with T-shirts to boot.
It was a fitting slogan given first-year head coach Michael Hoy is first cousins with team captain Sam Rauf, but it also seemed right given Green Hope’s path over the last three years. With three different coaches during that time, the two constants for the program was that the players had each other, and they shared in a lot of wins.
Green Hope is 71-6 during that time.
“It was such an eclectic group of kids and I’m so phenomenally blessed that they let me participate in their season,” Hoy said. “It was a wonderful first year. It’s going to be a tough one to follow.”
Snow flakes were plentiful from the player introductions until early in the second half.
Green Hope (22-3) opened up as the sharper team, controlling possession and taking six shots before Sanderson’s first. Green Hope had won the regular-season meeting 3-2.
But the Spartans’ first two shots were good ones.
Michael Clemmons’ attempt was saved and pushed wide by diving Green Hope goalkeeper Sam Bissett, but Ryan Turner kept his run and tapped in the rebound.
“Soccer’s a funny game,” Hoy said. “Sometimes you can play a team as well as we did and lose 3-0. But in the end, Sanderson took care of business.”
The first real attack on goal for Sanderson had the Spartans up 1-0 in the 34th minute, a score that held until halftime. It was the first time Green Hope had trailed all postseason.
“If we scored once, we didn’t stop,” Turner said. “We were high pressure.”
The Spartans (23-6-1) didn’t play back in the second half, instead choosing to keep their shape and play the Falcons straight-up. Todd Worley, now 301-103-17 as a head coach, said it was more important to keep everyone organized.
Sanderson held possession for much of the first 20 minutes of the second half but nearly slipped up when Walker Lozaw made a last-ditched save in the 43rd minute on a curling Green Hope shot.
In the 68th, Dylan Haynes took a counterattack down the left flank and wiggled free of his defender in the box. His first shot was saved by Bissett, but Haynes followed the ball and had the rebound.
Clemmons added an empty-net goal in the 79th to cement the win.
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