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Patriot Seniors Go Out With Bang
October 21, 2011Pinecrest High School
By Charlie Bergmann: The Pilot Newspaper
Pinecrest soccer has provided a treasure trove of memories for the 16 seniors on this year’s team that completed the regular season with a 4-0 home victory over Hoke County.
Five of them, including 2010 all-state midfielder Richard Palmer, have made it to the 4-A state final four twice — so feelings from Wednesday’s senior night occasion were more than likely of the warm and fuzzy variety.
“It’s definitely been a fun four years,” Palmer said at the end of the match. “It’s just special beating them 2-1 at their place and coming back here and getting a 4-0 win — showing we are the best team in the conference. We’ll play anyone. We want to win it all.”
The Patriots, 16-2-2 overall, finish at 10-0 in the Southeastern Conference, while the Bucks drop to 12-8-2 and 6-3-1. They return to action on Tuesday at home against an opponent to be determined in the semifinal round of the conference tournament.
It didn’t take the Patriots long to find the back of the net on the damp field. In the fourth minute, Shane Bridgman finished a rebound off a cross by Justin Mace.
Midway through the half, Taylor Morton passed the ball to Dane Nelsen inside the Buck penalty box. The Patriot forward touched the ball two or three times to get space before scoring to make it 2-0.
Three minutes later, Morton knocked in a rebound off a shot by Hayden Little. Palmer got into the act with 2:29 remaining until the intermission, assisting on the goal by Drew Phillips that completed the scoring.
Senior goalkeepers Mitchell Dotson and J.T. Stilwell shared the Patriots’ eighth shutout of the season.
In addition to the two goalkeepers, Palmer, Bridgman, Mace and Nelsen, the seniors honored at halftime with family members included Koron Kennedy, Morgan Van Camp, Jordan Beck, Bryan Van Cleve, Jimmy Casey, Chris Potter, Thomas Barkley, Nick Kruyer, Barrett Goulden and Max Clare.
The small size of the collection of Patriot underclassmen (eight) that watched the ceremony was striking, but next year’s squad will be refurbished by members of the junior varsity team coached by Evan Saleeby that allowed only five goals while going 14-0.
A header by Josh Rhea off a cross from Gerardo Peraza in the 29th minute provided the only goal in Wednesday’s jayvee match against Hoke.
“It’s been fun and it’s been challenging,” Patriot coach Todd Abbey said. “Any time you have 16 seniors — you have 16 leaders. The other eight have done well biding their time and doing what they need to do.
“We benefit a lot from the lack of high schools (in 4-A compared with the Triangle area) plus a club in our backyard.”
For the underclassmen, like Rene Cruz, the only sophomore on the varsity, the seniors have been very helpful.
“They’re very good players,” he said. “They’re committed and they’re good teachers.”