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Laney gets thrilling OT playoff soccer win over Ashley

Ashley's Gary O'Neill slides into Laney's Brian Pinder as he takes a shot on goal Friday night at Ashley High School. (Photo by Photo By: Jeff Janowski/StarNews Media)

This one had everything you'd expect from two of New Hanover County's best teams battling it out in order to move on in the state playoffs.

In a rubber match for both squads, the Laney boys soccer team was able to pull out a hard-fought victory at Ashley on Friday night, 1-0 in golden goal play.

With the win, the Buccaneers move on to the third round of the Class 4A state playoffs next week.

In a physical, chippy game, regulation was not enough to decide a winner. After 90 scoreless minutes of play, the teams went into golden-goal play where Laney's Noe Banales was able to take advantage of a loose ball in the box and put the game away.

In the 94th minute, Banales dribbled the ball and fired a shot off the crossbar. Ashley goalie Justin Savinon dove for the shot, but was not able to recover in time to save Banales' rebound.

"It's just a great, great high school soccer game," said Laney coach Jamie Noble. "Epic clash of two very good teams, it's really a shame somebody had to lose it because both teams played good enough to win it."

The teams split the regular-season series, but a 2-1 victory for Laney (16-4-1) over Ashley (16-4-1) on Oct. 24 was the Screaming Eagles' only conference loss of the year.

"That's a very experienced group over there," Noble said. "They're a very proud group and we knew the first time we played them we didn't have a great showing of ourselves.

"But, I didn't have to say anything to them to get them fired up. They set their expectations very high and they're fun to coach when you don't have to pump them up, they pump themselves up. They expect greatness out of themselves."

The No. 1 seeded Screaming Eagles performed about as well as anyone could expect. They suffered a setback in the first half when offensive cog Myles Strickland left with an apparent head injury.

However, they kept pressing and had many of their own opportunities to gain the lead.

"They left it on the field," said Ashley coach Giles Roberts. "It was an absolutely wonderful match. I knew it was going to be that way, I had a feeling it was going to overtime before we even stepped on the pitch. We got a little bit away from what we do best which is possessing the ball. Not just because of us, but because of the way they break it up and their aggressive play."

The Buccaneers will use tomorrow to rest their players, before returning to the field Monday in preparation for their third round matchup against the winner of Saturday's game between Pinecrest and Terry Sanford.

"We were a little banged up tonight, had some cramping and some ankles," Noble said. "My guys just gave me everything they had. We're going to get back at it on Monday and wait and figure out who we're playing."