Bucks Fall, 2-0
October 30, 2013Hoke County High School
Bryan Gunnell scored a goal and assisted on another as New Hanover defeated Hoke County 2-0 on Tuesday night to advance to the second round of the state 4A soccer playoffs.
Gunnell, a senior midfielder, missed five games in the regular season due to a hip flexor, but in his third game back from that injury, he scored the first goal of the match and assisted Matt Johnson for the second goal.
Wildcats coach T.J. Rennie couldn't be happier to see him contributing to the team's victory, its ninth in a row.
"It's nice to see Bryan back on the field," Rennie said. "He was our leading scorer for most of the year and for him to get back fully healthy, it makes a big difference with him out there on the left side of the field."
It was a mostly scoreless first half until Gunnell found the net in the 38th minute. Rennie was disappointed with how his team approached the start of the match.
"I was frustrated," he said. "We had some chances that we normally have the quality to score goals on. Hoke defended really well and their goalkeeper had a heck of a game. The win didn't come as easy as I think our players wanted. We didn't bring the right energy and enthusiasm to the game either."
In the 53rd minute, Gunnell passed it in the middle of the box to Johnson, who kicked in his 16th goal of the season to put New Hanover (19-2-2) up 2-0 over Hoke (10-12).
Despite the Wildcats' recent run of success, Rennie feels his team needs to improve if it wants to go deep into the postseason.
"We underestimated this team," he said. "We came out relatively awful and it's all mental. We think we're a little better than we are and we need to get over that. We were a little too happy with what we did in the regular season. Hopefully we learned a little bit from playing this team."
New Hanover will be at home in the next round (date TBA) against the Southern Alamance-Lumberton winner.