Green Hope’s repeat of the 4A state championship makes the Falcons the easy pick for the top spot in the final The News & Observer area boys’ soccer rankings.
It was no easy path to a repeat for the Falcons (24-2).
In the fourth round, Green Hope had to go through our No. 2, East Chapel Hill (17-2-2). The Wildcats were PAC-6 champions and the loss to Green Hope snapped an impressive 15-game unbeaten streak.
In the third round, Green Hope defeated No. 3 Sanderson (23-2-2).
The Spartans, which held the top ranking going into the playoffs, were unbeaten in their first 20 games this year and rolled to a Cap-8 championship. Sanderson also posted 13 shutouts, including eight consecutive.
Talented No. 4 Apex (16-5-1) had three losses against the three teams ranked above it, but also defeated Green Hope once to make it an interesting race in the Tri-9 Conference.
The 3A East runner-up Cardinal Gibbons (17-5-4) checks in at No. 5. After a slow start to the year (2-3-2 through first seven games) the Crusaders ended strong.
Right behind Gibbons in the Carolina 6 Conference was our No. 6 Chapel Hill (20-6-1). The Tigers went 3-4-1 against fellow Triangle top 15 teams, and also lost 2-1 to 4A East runner-up New Hanover.
Two Durham schools get back-to-back rankings with No. 7 Jordan (16-4-3) and No. 8 Carolina Friends – the private-school 2A runners-up.
The Cap-8 had more teams ranked than any conference, as No. 9 Heritage (16-8) made the third round of the playoffs and No. 11 Enloe (14-7-2) was always dangerous.
NCHSAA 2A state runner-up No. 10 Carrboro (18-7-3) tested every team it played this year. The Jaguars won the 2A East for the second year in a row, and four of its losses were by one goal each.
Corinth Holders is our solid No. 12. The Pirates, our only team from Johnston County, won 16 straight games before losing to Carrboro in the playoffs.
Ravenscroft (14-5-3) landed a spot at No. 13 after being a semifinalist in the private-school 3A championships.
No. 14 N.C. Science & Math (16-1) was upset in the playoffs after an undefeated regular season and Carolina 12 Conference championship.
Garner (15-3-1), who rounds out the rankings at No. 15, won the Greater Neuse River Conference and lost two one-goal games.