In what was probably the most electric atmosphere for any high school soccer match in the history of Wilmington, Laney and New Hanover met on the pitch in Buctown to decide the 4A East Regional representative at this year’s North Carolina High School Athletic Association Championship.
Playing in front of a near capacity crowd at Holliday Stadium, junior Tristan Nelson headed home the lone goal off a corner kick from Sam Shifflett in the 96th minute of extra time to give Laney a 1-0 result.
The Wildcats saw their season come to a close in the final four of the state tournament for the third time in four years. The Bucs defeated New Hanover for a third time after defeating their crosstown rivals twice during conference play, becoming the second team from Wilmington to represent the Port City in the state title match.
New Hanover, who closed the year 20-8-1 overall, qualified for the final game of the season in 2008.
Laney eventually saw their season come to an end following a 2-0 defeat against South Mecklenburg on the campus of N.C. State. The Bucs finished the memorable run 20-4-3 overall.
Former Laney standout Elijah Wilson recorded his 1,000th career point at the college level in a win for Coastal Carolina. Wilson, the reigning Big South Conference Tournament MVP, has helped the Chanticleers advance to the Big Dance in back-to-back seasons heading into 2016.
Coach Nathan Faulk also put on a one-of-a-kind basketball tournament inside Michael Jordan Gymnasium during Thanksgiving weekend, featuring a dozen or so Division I prospects from across the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland. Laney HoopsFeast included players getting recruited by a handful of big-time programs, including Marquette, Georgetown, Dayton, Kansas State, Richmond, Arizona, Baylor, Texas Tech, Clemson, Florida State, Georgetown, Georgia, Wake Forest, Maryland, Temple and USC.
One local high school football team also qualified for the final four of the 4A state playoffs as the New Hanover Wildcats advanced to the east regional following a dominating performance against Durham-Hillside. The 52-15 route gave the Wildcats its first appearance in a regional since 2009. Legion Stadium also played host to the game for the first time since 1991.