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Five Wilson County high school varsity boys soccer teams played six matches in a span of three evenings in the 2018 Rotary Cup, and only Fike, the 2017 champion, notched a victory.
In fact, the Golden Demons of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A Big East Conference won a pair. The second, a come-from-behind 2-1 triumph against Greenfield School of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A/2-A Coastal Plain Independents Conference, wrapped up the tournament Saturday evening on the damp No. 3 pitch at J. Burt Gillette Athletic Complex.
However, no champion was proclaimed as the result of Community Christian being absent (not fielding a team). Fike opened with a 7-2 triumph against Wilson Christian Academy on Tuesday evening. The Knights managed two ties and a loss in the Cup and departed 2-2-2.
“We’ve got two wins, and nobody else has that,” head Fike coach Chris Mizelle remarked with a grin.
Added Fike senior Myles Cyrus: “We showed well; I guess you could say we won.”
Greenfield scored first when 6-foot-2 senior standout Jackson Stone cranked an accurate shot from just outside the 18-yard box. The goal was Jackson’s eighth of the young season.
The Demons shut Stone down with a “committee” defensive effort the rest of the way and, by intermission, owned a 2-1 cushion.
Cyrus netted the first goal on an assist from freshman Taylor Sullivan. Sophomore Gavin Wheeler buried the clincher on a feed from junior Kevin Mendoza.
The second half belonged to the defenses — Fike senior goalkeeper Tanner Sullivan and his back line of freshman O.C. Bolt, junior Mason Lee, senior Clayton Snyder and Taylor Sullivan; and Greenfield senior keeper Luke Flaherty and his support cast of sophomore Cabell Metts, sophomore Will Powell, senior Patrick Smith and senior Riley Jennings.
Fike missed a chance to put the Knights away with approximately eight minutes remaining when Cyrus’ shot from the left of the goal clanked off the right post in an one-on-one situation with Flaherty.
“I was trying to beat him around the end line,” Cyrus replayed, “and I was able to turn in to the left front. The angle or rotation of the ball was off. Just unlucky.”
Fike, opening its season in the Cup, got another shot from Cyrus and a free kick from Mendoza. The Knights answered with a pair of legitimate attempts from Stone. Fike’s Tanner Sullivan responded.
First-year head coach Eric Nguyen didn’t deny that a stretch of six matches in nine days took a physical toll on his young Knights.
“I was proud of the performance tonight,” he declared. “It was definitely our best effort (in the Cup). We came out with high energy. We made sure we pressured, won the ball and Jackson made a great finish.
“We fought so hard the last few minutes and I thought we were going to pull through.”
But only Fike came up with a winning combination in 2018.