New Hanover soccer falls in Eastern final
Tue. November 13, 2012 at 11:06 p.m. | By StarNews Sports Department
Green Hope's Tyler Hawley (2) battles for the ball against against New Hanover's Ricardo Olivares (9) and Logan Chaucer (20) during the first half of the 4A Eastern Regional Final, Tuesday, November 13, 20112, at Green Hope High School. Green Hope won 2-1. (Photo by Photo by The News & Observer of Raleigh)
By Brant Wilkerson-New
Cary | Live by the sword, die by the sword.
After advancing by a single goal in each of its first three playoff matches, New Hanover came out on the other side on Tuesday night, falling to Green Hope 2-1 in the NCHSAA East Regional final.
The loss ended a playoff run in which the Wildcats knocked off two top-seeded teams in Garner and Pinecrest, and dispatched rival Hoggard, all in one-goal affairs.
"It's difficult that it ends," New Hanover coach T.J. Rennie said. "It was a special run and I don't know anything quite like it."
Despite their emotions after the game, the players applauded the contingency of New Hanover fans that made the trek, including former coach Al Pastore. "They're such a group of kids. Everyone that's been around them really wanted them to be successful," he said. "And to me, they were."
Throughout the first half, New Hanover possessed the ball in the Falcons' third, but was unable to get a good look at the goal. Green Hope struck first with a goal that came from a crowd in front of the net.
"Their first goal was kind of a nothing, weird goal," Rennie said.
The Falcons appeared to take control of a hard-fought match in the 60th minute when Josh Kennedy netted his second goal of the night to put Green Hope (23-2) up 2-0.
Instead, New Hanover (17-7-2) fought back, and Ricardo Olivares was set up for a goal off a Skyler DeYoung free kick to cut the lead to 2-1.
New Hanover had one final look late when a streaking Matt Johnson received a lob in the box, but he had his shot turned away my Falcons keeper Sam Bissett.
With that, top-ranked Green Hope moved on to the state championship game.
"To be involved in a game that mattered that much, with a team that good, we can't ask for anything more," Rennie said.
Overall, Rennie said he was pleased with his first season after sliding into the head coach's seat.
"If you'd told me at the beginning of the year that we'd lose in the semifinal, I'd say I'd take that in a heartbeat," Rennie said. "I'm ecstatic right now.
"I love these guys, and it's just been a blast."