Broughton boys soccer coach Nick Wheeler paused and said he wouldn’t try to warm over his team’s state runner-up finish on a chilly night the temperature dipped to 37 degrees.
His Capitals lost 1-0 to Pfafftown Reagan in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state final Saturday night at N.C. State’s Dail Soccer Field.
“We’re not happy with this – I’m not going to lie,” Wheeler said. “These kids are extremely upset. They worked hard; they were more than capable of winning this thing. The bar has been set high for next year. They’re not happy with second place.”
Broughton, the 4A East Regional champion, suffered only its second loss of the year to finish with a 21-2-2 record. It’s the second straight year a Big Eight 4A Conference school finished as state runner-up. Sanderson, the only other team to beat Broughton in 2014, was the 2013 state runner-up.
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Reagan, the 4A West champion, started the season slowly with two losses in its first seven matches, including one to Sanderson. But the black-shirted Raiders finished up winning 20 of their final 21.
“Broughton is definitely the highest skilled team we’ve played,” Reagan coach Paul Hicks said. “They’re very well coached. Nick has done a great job with them. They fought hard.
“They possessed the ball really well on us in the first half. We came out in the second half with a little more intensity and played tighter on them so they couldn’t knock it around so much. I’m so proud of my boys.”
The defensive struggle was scoreless at halftime and appeared headed for overtime until Reagan capitalized on an opportunity with 21 minutes left in the match. Freshman Noah Wells sent a high pass toward the goal that took a big bounce. Senior Ethan Wells timed his run and the bounce and beat the goalie to tap in the game-winner.
In all, Broughton had 10 shots and five shots on goal to Reagan’s eight shots and two shots on goal.
Reagan senior goalie Quinn Kuhn had five saves, including stopping a Matt Brickhouse shot from close range with 7 minutes to play. Brickhouse, who was coming off a hat trick in the regional final, had two other near-misses in the first half at the 16:20 and 35-second marks that went over the cross bar.
“He battles hard for everything he gets,” Wheeler said. “He worked hard and he earned his chances, but they just didn’t drop tonight.”
Added Hicks of his goalie’s performance: “Quinn came up huge for us as he has all year. He’s a big reason we made it here.”