NCHSAA SEC Members
Bucks Rally to Beat Scots, Advance to SEC Championship
October 28, 2010Hoke County High School
October 27, 2010
RAEFORD, NC – Wednesday nignt at Raz Autry Stadium, the #3 seed Scotland County soccer team traveled to Raeford to play the #2 seed Hoke County Fighting Bucks in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. During the regular season, the Bucks did not lose a single home game. Scotland would have their sights set on changing the Bucks’ unbeaten streak in the first half. The Fighting Scots would win the majority of the balls in the air and attacked the Hoke defense from the opening whistle. Although both teams would create chances, the first score would not come until the 36th minute. Scotland’s Evgheny Khandoga would break through the Hoke defense to score the only goal before intermission.
The Bucks would come out with a fresh new lineup to start the second half. It appeared as if a different team emerged in the home white jerseys. Hoke would start the half by gaining possession and creating offensive chances. It would take the Bucks just under five minutes to even the score with the Scots. Freshman John Walrath would ignite the Hoke attack by winning a ball in the midfield. He would slide a pass to Allan Hernandez on the left wing. Hernandez would create some space and loft a knuckling ball toward the near post. Scotland’s keeper could not keep the ball out of the net, breathing life back into the home side. Just ten minutes later, Walrath would create the go-ahead opportunity for Hoke. After beating Scotland down the right side, he would have to be dragged down by a defender in the penalty box to prevent a goal. Jose Mejia would step to the penalty line and bury the shot for the game-winning goal. Walther Mejia would score with a diving header sent from the foot of Allan Hernandez with 6:03 remaining to finish the scoring.
With the 3-1 victory over Scotland (10-10-1), Hoke (17-4-2) moves on to play the Pinecrest Patriots (14-5-2) in the SEC championship game. The #1 seed Pinecrest defeated #5 Lumberton (9-11-2) 7-1 Wednesday night to earn their spot in the final. The title game will be played Saturday night at 7:00pm at Pinecrest High School. Pinecrest has beaten SEC opponents by a combined score of 76-6 through the regular season and tournament. Although the Patriots have dominated SEC play, Pinecrest and Hoke played a double overtime match that ended in a 1-1 tie in the final regular season game for both teams. In the conference tournament, tying is not an option and a winner must be determined before the end of the night. Pinecrest defeated Lumberton 4-0 in last year’s final to claim the inaugural SEC championship. Hoke will be looking for it’s first SEC tournament crown on Saturday night. With both teams looking to go into the state playoffs on a positive note, Saturday night should be an exciting match between the top two seeds from the Southeastern Conference.
Coach Butler: We had a nice little heart-to-heart chat at halftime tonight. Scotland deserved to be leading at halftime because they completely outworked us during the first half. We were not working together and most of them were not responding to our instruction. After the break, I was not too happy so I knew I had to change some things and give some of our other players a chance to make a difference. I shook things up with our lineup to start the second half to see if we could find some energy, and the boys responded. We finally started to fight for possession and making the simple plays. We set the tone to start the second half and never let up. Our effort in the second half was great, but we can’t expect to win games if we play like we did in the first 40 minutes. Pinecrest is not going to give us 40 minutes to get it together on Saturday night. To give ourselves a chance to win, we need to be ready when we step off the bus.
Stats vs. Scotland (2010 Stats)
Goals: Allan Hernandez(4), Jose Mejia(7), Walther Mejia(20)
Assists: John Walrath(1), Allan Hernandez(7)Defensive Player of the Game – John Walrath, Jonathan Torres Crespo