The Beast of the Big East goes to 21-0
October 28, 2011North Carolina
By Tom Ham, Wilson Times
WILSON - In workmanlike fashion and with little fanfare or celebration, the undefeated Hunt High boys soccer team added the 3-A Big East Conference Tournament championship to its regular-season supremacy with a 4-0 conquest of second-place Southern Nash on a comfortable Thursday evening.
Senior forward Parker Lamm and his replacement, Ernesto Blanco, combined for a hat trick (three goals) to lead the Warriors of fourth-year head coach Trent Dorough to their 21st victory and third against the Firebirds this season.
Southern Nash, appearing in a tournament final for the first time in the program’s history and a regular-season runner-up for only the second time, enters next week’s N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs with a 10-7 record. Head coach John Matthews’ Firebirds expect to play host to White Oak next Tuesday.
“It seemed like a regular-season game,” Lamm said of the match’s importance. “But you have to take it that way so you won’t get nervous. But we played pretty good; we possessed the ball pretty good.”
Dorough downplayed his Warriors’ dominance of conference opposition this season.
“It’s a great feeling,” he assured. “I don’t want to lose in anything. We just wanted to play hard. Yes, we want to win, but the main thing was to get out healthy. And I wanted (Southern Nash) to be healthy. I want all our teams healthy for the playoffs because I want all the teams in our conference to do good.”
Hunt, No. 1-ranked among the state’s 3-A teams for the last several weeks, will likely host Charles B. Aycock of the Eastern Carolina Conference in the opening round early next week.
Lamm netted the first goal of each half.
With just under 17 minutes remaining in the first half, Lamm ran onto a pass from senior Henry Orellana and, on the bounce, laced the soccer ball to the left corner of the goal and away from diving Firebirds goalkeeper Adam Hatchel, a senior.
Then, with just under 20 minutes left in the match, Firebirds sophomore keeper Will Liles, who played the last 30 minutes, deflected a blast from Orellana. However, Lamm was on the spot to put in the rebound.
“They were just finding me,” Lamm said of his numerous opportunities. “I blew about three others. (Teammates) were moving the ball really good, leaving gaps and they saw me. About all I do is shoot. They call me the trashman. They shoot it and I go get it.”
Just seconds after replacing Lamm, Blanco notched his fourth goal after junior scoring leader Eric O’Brien cranked a shot from the deep corner.
Finally, senior James Revis celebrated his first goal, rebounding junior Craig Edwards’ deflected shot.
Dorough was especially excited about reserves Blanco and Revis each collecting a goal.
“I thought we were all right the first half,” Matthews reviewed, “but that third goal took the air out of us. We couldn’t get much going consistently, but they’re a good team.”
Sophomore Hunt goalkeeper Andrew Sorrell and his back line of senior Beau White, senior Matthew Westbrook and sophomore Jacob Lee were again solid. Senior midfielders Orellana and Sam Hoeferkamp turned in splendid performances.
For the Firebirds, senior Tre’Von Hunter, sophomore Moises Gonzalez and freshman Ismael Rodriguez generated threats. Senior Lawrence Sandifer drilled a shot off the crossbar late in the second half. But Southern Nash’s best opportunity to interrupt the Warriors’ calm occurred in the closing moments of the first half.
Southern Nash trailed 2-0 when a scrum occurred in front of the Hunt goal. Sorrell blocked Hunter’s shot from close range and, with the ball sitting a few feet away from the goal, White rushed in to blast it out of harm’s way.
“That would have cut their lead in half,” Matthews remarked. “That would have changed the momentum. But that’s why they’re No. 1.”
Matthews, who lauded junior defender Carlos Leon, described the Firebirds’ season as “amazing.”
“We won some big games and had a really good stretch of games in the conference,” he noted. “But when you run into a team like this, it’s tough.”
And “tough” might become “tougher” for Hunt’s playoffs foes.
“We’re not as good as we can be,” Lamm insisted. “If we start putting both halves together, we’ll be fine.”