Thursday’s third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association boys soccer playoffs feature two of the top teams in the state and Triangle when Millbrook heads to Green Hope.
The Falcons (24-1) are the top overall seed in the Mideast while Millbrook (19-4-1) is No. 3 in the East and the highest-seeded non-conference champ.
Green Hope outlasted Southwest Wake Athletic Conference foe Middle Creek 1-0 on Tuesday while Millbrook downed Knightdale 4-2.
“There’s always a bad game that a team survives,” Green Hope coach David Corsbie said. “Hopefully this is the one game that we played poorly and survived – and we continue to play better after this.”
One key for Millbrook will be getting an early goal.
“Early goals are great for us, it’s great for confidence but also helps with our game plan,” Millbrook coach Matt Edwards said. “We want to possess the ball and control the flow of the game, and when you have a 1-0 or 2-0 lead, it makes your possession demoralizing for the opponent.”
East Chapel Hill surging: The eighth-seeded Wildcats (14-5-3) will head to D.H. Conley (15-3-2) in Greenville in Thursday’s third round after blowing by 16-seed Hoke County 6-0. Hoke County had upset top-seed New Bern 3-1 in the first round.
East Wake in third round: East Wake (16-6-2) is making its first appearance in the third round since 2011 after toppling traditional power Broughton 3-2 on Tuesday. The Warriors, seeded third, will host Wilmington’s Ashley (13-4-2), a 7-seed that beat Enloe 2-0.
“This was probably one of the biggest wins in the soccer history of our school,” said East Wake senior defender Garrett Johnson.
Cary makes history: After making the playoffs for the first time since 2011, Cary (14-8-3) is heading to the third round for the first time since 2005 after a 5-0 blowout at Fayetteville’s Pine Forest.
Quinn Dunphy, coach Mike Dunphy’s son, was around that 2005 team and an occasional ball boy.
“That team was obviously very good – Zack Schilawski, all those guys, being around them – and now to actually be here in the third round, in their footsteps, it’s a really special feeling for me and something that’s been driving me the whole time,” Quinn Dunphy said.
Up next is a Thursday night trip to New Hanover (18-3-1), the 2-seed from the East. Cary, the 11-seed from the Mideast, turned the corner in its last 10 games, going 7-2-1 including two playoff wins.
“I think when we won at Apex (to start the 7-2-1 run), personally it was the first time I beat Apex playing high school soccer, I felt that the team really picked itself up and that we started beleiving in ourselves and believing we could make a run at this,” Quinn Dunphy said.
Southern Lee stuns Hunt: Southern Lee (13-6) is the 8-seed in the 3A bracket but it looks like the Cavaliers are on a hot streak after downing top-seed Hunt (20-2-1) 3-2 in the second round. The Cavs will travel to 4-seed North Forsyth – the westernmost team in the East half of the bracket.
Traditional powers to meet: In a usual late-round 3A match, state powers Chapel Hill (21-2), the 2-seed, hosts 11-seed Jacksonville (14-8-2). Both teams won 4-0 in the second round. Jacksonville beat Chapel Hill’s conference foe Northwood, while Chapel Hill topped Jacksonville’s top rival White Oak.
Lee continues same march: Thursday’s trip will be a familiar one for Lee County. The Yellow Jackets (23-3) will play at Swansboro (21-3-1) for the second consecutive year in the playoffs. Lee County won 3-1 last year en route to the state finals.
Lee County held off Corinth Holders (16-6-2) on Tuesday in the second round, 3-2.
“We’ve got to find ways to get the guys to shoot the ball more,” said Lee County coach Brad Wicker said. “It was like once we started firing, that’s when we started scoring. I felt like there were a lot of shots out there that we didn’t take.”
North Johnston undone: Less than one minute after North Johnston’s Carlos Aguilar tied the game off of a corner kick late in the contest, the Bulldogs’ Ben Costner notched his fifth and most important goal of the season, also on a corner kick, to give visiting Dixon the thrilling 4-3 win.
“I really thought that after our third goal, that it would definitely go into overtime with the momentum but they snuck one in,” North Johnston coach Jody Edwards said. “I don’t think we were quite ready on our corner kick set defense; we were slow setting up.”
North Johnston (17-6-2) has a core group of seniors are responsible for 52 varsity wins over the past three seasons taking the program and its expectations to new heights. Ian Walston finished his high school career with 68 goals and 62 assists.
Wildcats, Jets, Jags still going: Jordan-Matthews has outscored opponents 16-0 through the first two rounds of the 2A playoffs, knocking off Graham 7-0 on Tuesday. The Jets (21-1) visit Clinton (21-2-1), but aren’t the only area 2A team left standing.
Carrboro (16-3-3) travels to East Duplin (16-2-3) and Bunn (19-1-2) will host Washington (20-2). Bunn ended North Pitt’s year with a 6-2 win in the second round.
Raleigh Charter upset: Previously unbeaten and untied Raleigh Charter (20-1) fell in the second round, losing 3-2 to ninth-seeded James Kenan (12-8).
Of N&O area 1A teams, the only ones remaining are 5-seed Franklin Academy (18-2), which hosts Kenan on Thursday, and Spring Creek (16-3-1), which makes the short trip to top-seeded Wallace-Rose Hill (22-4).
11-Voyager Academy, the 11-seed, fell on PKs to Hobbton after a 1-1 tie in regulation while Louisburg lost 6-2 to Spring Creek, Granville Central 4-3 to Manteo and Research Triangle 9-0 to Wallace-Rose Hill.
Geoff Neville, Mike Mangan and Lee Montgomery contributed.