No. 5 Hoggard 1 No. 8 Broughton 0
Senior Sayres McKenna proved to be a difference maker in Friday’s 4A playoff match against No. 8 Raleigh-Broughton as the Western Carolina commit set up the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win for No. 5 Hoggard at Scott Braswell Stadium.
With the game deadlocked after 40 minutes of play, McKenna led the charge up field in the early stages of the second half and Siara Southerland finished off a rebound attempt for the only goal of the contest to move the Vikings into the regional round of the tournament.
“We knew coming in a little bit about Broughton and knew what to expect,” said Hoggard Coach Justin Schatz. “We knew what we had to do defensively and in the attack, kind of be patient and wait for the right opportunity to capitalize.
“I’m very proud of the defense the last few games and knew they were going to come forward with numbers. When it comes to that it’s just about heart and giving it all you have.”
Both sides had one quality opportunity in the first half, but keepers Hannah Wagner and Allie Cutler were up to task until the tally by Southerland in the 43rd minute.
Hoggard came out storming off the opening whistle with three corner kicks within minutes as Jess Bennion nearly put the Vikings in front on a ball that was turned away by a Capitals’ defender clinging to the far post. The Vikings controlled pace of play over 10 minutes of action until Meredith Brown found a loose ball inside the 18 yard box. The freshman made a quick turn and shot, but Wagner was strong in goal for the save.
Wagner finished with nine stops to record the clean sheet, while Tara Poteat, Caroline Lemley and Aimme Darrow provided stability in the backline to assist in the shutout.
“We responded well after going up and we’re like family in the back,” said Wagner. “We kept our heads up, played together and didn’t let anyone behind. It’s just one game at a time at this point. We knew if we played our game we could take them and we showed that tonight.”
Broughton picked up the offensive pressure down 1-0, and had a chance to find the equalizer in the 56th minute when Madison Huckabee was whistled for dangerous play and issued a yellow card. The ensuing free kick sent in to the penalty area by Lucy Krueger was emphatically turned away off a header from Emma Haywood, while four more free kicks later in the half by the Capitals were unable to connect.
“Obviously, we knew it was going to be a really good game,” said McKenna. “We are both good defensive teams so we just had to attack slowly and once we got forward we had a chance to get that goal. It’s my senior year so it’s emotional because it could be the last game, but we’re ready for that. It’s always tough when you get this far and just have to grind it out.”
Hoggard soccer became the third girls team from the school (lacrosse, basketball) to advance to the regional finals this year. The Vikings improved to 21-2-2 overall and face No. 3 Panther Creek (18-0-2) in the final four on Wednesday, May 27, as Hoggard looks avenge their 2-1 setback to the Panthers in last year’s east regional.