Local soccer standouts compete together for final time at showcase event

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Four local standouts took the pitch on Tuesday night representing Wilmington at the annual North Carolina Coaches Association (NCCA) East-West All-Star Game.

Ian Bennett. Photo by John Crouch
Ian Bennett. Photo by John Crouch.

Sayres McKenna wore Hoggard blue for the final time, while L.B. Shapiro, Ian Bennett and Franco Fernandez rounded out the trio from New Hanover High School.

Girls and boys soccer were added to NCCA All-Star Week in 1992. Legendary coaches Bob Catapano, Zack Osborne, and Herk DeGraw were featured that year.

In the girls match, the East took a one goal lead early in the second half before Megan McCallister (RC Reynolds) equalized the score, setting up the eventual game-winner by Emmily Cowe (Hough) with 15 minutes to play to give the West a 2-1 result.

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The West leads the all-time girls soccer series 11-6-7 after recording victories in consecutive years. McKenna recorded two shots on goal and Shapiro had one shot as the East held a 19-9 shot advantage.

Tresor Mbuyu (Garringer) put the West on the board first in the boys match midway through the first half before heavy rain in the Greensboro area started falling with seven minutes until the break. The side from the West tallied three more times in the final 40 minutes to grab a 4-1 victory.

The win puts an end to a two-year win streak for the East, who leads the all-time series 11-9-4. Bennett and made the starting 11 at midfielder and Fernandez recorded one shot as a second half substitution.

Sayres McKenna.
Sayres McKenna.

McKenna was crowned Mideastern Conference Player of the Year this spring and heads to Western Carolina this upcoming August after tallying 26 goals and 38 assists in 26 games for the Vikings. Hoggard finished the year 21-3-2 overall and 12-0 in conference. Shapiro recorded seven scores in 18 games played to go along with 17 assists.

All-State performers in fall 2014, Bennett and Fernandez played alongside each other one last time before heading off to college this fall.

Fernandez was named conference Player of the Year as one of the top goal scorers in the area and played a key role on a New Hanover team that came up one win short of advancing to the 4A  state championship. He finished with 22 goals, while Bennett turned in a strong senior campaign with 15 tallies and 13 assists as the team’s captain. He will continue his soccer career this fall at Appalachian State University.

The All-Star football game will be close out the annual event in Greensboro on Wednesday night. Hoggard offensive lineman Sylvester Smith is the lone representative from the area on the East team, which will be coached by Jimmy Williams of West Johnston High School.