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Eagles' Historic Season Over

Posted Sunday, November 07, 2010 by Kevin Travis, New Bern Sun Journal

Eagles' historic season over

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Fall to Hunt in soccer playoffs

Sun Journal

West Craven coach Aaron Steele (black hat) talks with his team in Saturday's second-round match against Hunt. The Eagles fell 4-0 to the Warriors in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A state playoffs, ending West Craven's best season in school history. 

West Craven's Ryan Hardison (16) boots the ball away from Hunt's Sam Hoeferkamp (10) in Saturday's second-round match against Hunt. West Craven's Antonio Lewis (9), Antonio Labra (13) and Hunt's Joe Dyer (15) are near the action. The Eagles fell 4-0 to the Warriors in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A state playoffs, ending West Craven's best season in school history. 

WILSON — The best season in West Craven soccer history came to a close Saturday afternoon.

The Eagles (15-5-4), the No. 3 seed from the Coastal Conference, fell 4-0 to ninth-ranked Wilson Hunt (20-2) in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A state playoffs. West Craven notched its first playoff win and its most victories in a single season during the 2010 campaign.

“This was just fantastic,” West Craven coach Aaron Steele said of his team’s season. “It really is an underdog story with how far we’ve come with what we have. This just shows that hard work and dedication can get you somewhere.”

Steele said his seniors, including Jaime Cortes, Sam Mitchell, Antonio Labra, Joe Valdez, Antonio Lewis, Jacob Dudding, Michael Prince and Michael Doane, should be proud of their accomplishments.

“We got to the pinnacle,” Steele said. “That’s what these boys did.

“We don’t have a lot of soccer experience. This just shows that with hard work, anything is possible.”

Hunt was just too strong for West Craven on a breezy, chilly afternoon. The Warriors were able to score twice in the first half and twice in the second.

Hunt coach Trent Dorough said his Warriors were able to overcome a strong West Craven team to get the victory.

“West Craven has a great team and they have a great goalie,” Dorough said. “We knew it was going to be a hard game. It just went our way today.”

Linwood White gave Hunt the lead with 26:42 to play in the first half when West Craven failed to clear the ball away from the box. White made it 2-0 with just a couple minutes remaining in the half. Mitchell knocked the ball away on a Hunt shot attempt, but the ball rolled away and White was there to pound in the rebound.

Hunt made it 4-0 in a 30-second span in the second half. Eric O’Neal ripped in a shot and Sam Hoeferkamp followed suit moments later.

Mitchell, playing in his last game in goal for the Eagles, tallied nine saves. He recorded 166 saves during the season.

Will Jacobs preserved the shutout for Hunt. He notched seven saves.

Cortes finished his senior season with 51 goals. Last year’s Sun Journal Player of the Year recorded 102 goals in his career.

Steele must deal without Cortes, and the other seven seniors, next year.

“You can never replace a Sam Mitchell or a Jaime Cortes or an Antonio Labra or an Antonio Lewis or a Joe Valdez,” Steele said. “All those guys had their unique characteristics on this team that will never, ever be replaced. They left their legacy.”

Steele believes his Eagles can have a strong 2011 campaign. He’ll get players like Lamberto Gomez, Nick Mitchell and Mike Cauley back.

“We just need some guys to step up to their level,” Steele said. “Can Jose (Agirre) be the future and make a name for himself?

“We go back to the drawing board and pull together some resources. Hopefully, we can contend in conference again.”

Steele said his seniors have laid the groundwork for a bright West Craven soccer future.

“They’ve inspired the people that want to come out and play,” Steele said. “That’s the key thing that they did. If we didn’t have a winning program, we wouldn’t have any people that would want to come out to be the next Jaime Cortes.”


Kevin Travis can be reached at 252-635-5669 or at ktravis@freedomenc.com.

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