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Wallace-Rose Hill falls in soccer playoffs


TEACHEY | All season long, Southwest’s soccer team has looked to senior forward Austin Tausch to provide the Stallions all their needed goal-scoring.

On Saturday, however, the Stallions showed in their 2-0 victory over Wallace-Rose Hill that others could come up with clutch goals.

Alex Blake and Kevin Hounshell each booted second-half goals to lead Southwest to a victory that sent the Stallions to the NCHSAA 1-A East Regional final for the third consecutive year.

“We’ve had big contributions from a lot of guys in the first three playoff games,” Southwest coach John Sweeney said. “That gives us confidence and makes us dangerous as a team. It’s exciting to see.”

The Stallions (12-2-2), who are the Coastal Plains Conference champion, will play host to Franklin Academy either Tuesday or Wednesday in the regional final. That winner advances to Saturday’s state championship game in Raleigh.

Franklin Academy (13-6), the second seed from the Carolina 12 Conference, beat conference rival Raleigh Charter 6-0 on Saturday.

“I think it’s a testament to the toughness of the kids we have at Southwest,” Sweeney said. “We lost a lot of quality players (from last year’s team), and to lose guys of that caliber and to be right back where we were is a pleasant surprise.”

Wallace-Rose Hill (22-2-2), the top seed from the Tri-County Conference, ended its season in the opposite fashion from which it started. The Bulldogs opened their season with a 3-2 win over the Stallions.

“I thought that we weren’t outplayed, but Southwest had a little faster step,” Wallace-Rose Hill coach Mike Graybar said. “Once they got that first goal, it changed the momentum of the game.”

Graybar was referring to Blake’s unassisted goal 7:50 into the second half.

After playing the ball at midfield, Blake, a junior defender, dribbled past a defender before firing a 25-yard shot. The ball bounced off the right hand of Bulldogs goalkeeper Francisco Mejia and rolled into the back of the net.

“I kept seeing that the midfield was open and I thought I would take it and test the waters,” Blake said.

And how did Blake feel when he scored the go-ahead goal?

“I felt amazing,” he said. “It was the best feeling of my life.”

The Stallions took a 2-0 lead 10:05 later on a goal from Hounshell, a sophomore forward.

Noah Tausch contributed to the goal after he played the ball from the right corner and delivered a crossing pass to inside the 18-yard box. The ball bounced off a couple of defenders before Hounshell won a scramble for the ball and fired a shot past the goalie.

“I was at the right place at the right time,” Hounshell said. “Noah gave a great cross, and I was able to finish.”

And the Stallions showed that other players besides Austin Tausch could hurt other teams.

Graybar was asked if his game plan was to try to take Tausch out of the game. He hesitated before fully answering.

“Yes…, I would say so,” Graybar said. “Austin is an outstanding player and we definitely had a concept of neutralizing him. I thought we were effective throughout the game, but that one quick counter attack (that led to Blake’s goal) changed the dynamic of the whole game.”

But while the attack lifted the Stallions in the final 40 minutes, Southwest can also credit its defense for the victory. The Stallions allowed 5 shots on goal, including 2 in the final two minutes with the game essentially over. Southwest senior goalkeeper Nick Matics made saves on each of the Bulldogs’ shots.

 


By CHRIS MILLER | Jacksonville Daily News