RALEIGH – In an exciting and hard-fought battle, it was Newton-Conover that got the lone goal to win the school’s third State Championship in Men’s Soccer in the school’s history.
The two teams both showcased a very physical brand of soccer, each creating numerous chances throughout the game. First Flight peppered Newton-Conover keeper Jon Joplin all game, showering the sophomore with 15 shots, 11 of them on frame. Joplin stood firm, making all 11 required saves for the shutout.
The sparkling championship moment for the Red Devils came in the 58th minute as a clearance out of the Devil defense found the lone forward at the time, Francisco Tapia at midfield. Outnumbered 3-1, Tapia forced the issue, dribbling through the Nighthawk rear defenders and working the ball to his left foot. Tapia slotted a shot low and hard along the ground just to the left of the sprawling left foot of keeper Stryker Owens to give Newton-Conover a 1-0 lead.
Tapia’s goal made him the match M.V.P. and was the lone goal surrendered by the emergency keeper for First Flight. Owens was tapped as the starter when First Flight’s starting keeper, Lucas Neitherlander, sustained a hand injury during the pre-game warm-ups.
First Flight ended the season 21-2, with an 8-0 record in the Northeastern Coastal 2A where they were the champions of the league. They won the Eastern Regional for the second straight year and fourth time in school history.
Newton-Conover secured the school’s third State Championship in Men’s Soccer. The Red Devils season concluded with 27-0-2 with a perfect 14-0 record in the South Fork 2A. The Red Devils won the Western Regional title for the third time in school history and the first time since 2014.
NCHS FFHS 10 Shots 15 5 SOG 11 11 Saves 4 12 Fouls 9 1 Corners 1 1 YC 1 0 RC 0
58’ – NC – Francisco Tapia goal, unassisted. (1-0 NC)
69’ – NC – Dilan Esperilla shown a yellow card.
70’ – FF – Quinn Douglas shown a yellow card.