Cabarrus Stallions break through with state title
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Monday, Nov. 11, 2013

Cabarrus Stallions break through with state title

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/11/08/12/36/Y88bw.Em.138.jpeg|211
    - COURTESY CABARRUS STALLIONS
    The members of the Cabarrus Stallions, which won its first N.C. Home School Athletic Association state title in October: from left, front, Michael Carter-Barkman, Brian Stepanek, Andrew Moore, Tyler DeVlieger, Joel Levinson, Parker Sorensen, Alex Barbee and Christian Frey; from left, back, Harper Hicks, Marshall Frank, Mark Gossage, Justin Sweet, Ike Easterbrook, Samuel Barker, Zach Bailey, Joey Desloge, Stan Brockinton and head coach Peter Williams.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/11/08/12/36/s7LjV.Em.138.jpeg|284
    unknown - COURTESY CABARRUS STALLIONS
    Cabarrus Stallions defender Marshall Frank, left, drives past an Asheville player during the Stallions’ victory in the N.C. Home School Athletic Association state title game Oct. 19. It was the first state championship for the Stallions, a Concord-based home school team composed of players from the Charlotte region.

Home school sports teams have to fight a lot of battles that teams from traditional high schools don’t.

Among them is scheduling solid opponents who will pose a challenge and improve the homeschoolers’ level of play.

Attracting quality teams may have gotten a little easier for the Cabarrus Stallions, a soccer squad based in Cabarrus County with heavy participation from players in the University City, northern Mecklenburg County and the rest of the Charlotte metro area.

Last month, the Stallions won the N.C. Home Educators Athletic Conference state championship for the first time in its five-year history. On Oct. 19, Cabarrus defeated the Asheville Trailblazers 5-2 in Winston-Salem behind a hat trick from sophomore midfielder Brian Stepanek.

The Stallions avenged their only other state championship game appearance, a loss to Asheville in 2011. Last year, Cabarrus lost in the state semifinals to Northeast Wake on penalty kicks.

“It was very exciting,” sophomore midfielder Christian Frey said. “It’s very cool since I’ve been with the team from the beginning and we hadn’t won a state championship. I hope to repeat, but I’m definitely going to cherish the moment.”

Players from Cabarrus County are freshman defender Alex Barbee, junior midfielder Justin Sweet, senior midfielder Mark Gossage, sophomore defender Parker Sorensen, senior defender Samuel Barker and junior midfielder Zach Bailey.

Mecklenburg representatives include Stepanek, Frey, senior defender Harper Hicks, freshman goalkeeper Ike Easterbrook, sophomore midfielder Joel Levinson, junior attacker Joey Desloge and sophomore defender Michael Barkman.

The Stallions are not bound by any geographic boundaries, so players can live anywhere. They are the only home school team in the Charlotte area, so players travel from as far as Union, Cleveland and Catawba counties in North Carolina and York County in South Carolina.

There are six soccer teams in the NCHEAC, which is split between the Western division – Cabarrus, Asheville and Winston-Salem – and the Eastern division – Fayetteville, East Wake and Northeast Wake.

Several sports are available to home schoolers in Cabarrus County, many of which are affiliated with the Cabarrus Stallions organization, such as basketball, volleyball, cross country, baseball and softball.

The Stallions soccer team’s schedule is made up mostly of games with the Western-division NCHEAC teams and small private schools, with the occasional public school. Local teams the Stallions played include Mount Pleasant High, CFA Academy and Hickory Grove Christian School.

Former assistant Peter Williams took over as head coach this season from John Frey, who turned his attention to overseeing the entire Stallions soccer program and coaching its middle school teams.

Cabarrus finished with a program-best record of 16-2-3. Benchmark victories came over the public school Mount Pleasant and regular-season and exhibition wins over Charlotte Christian, which plays in the highest classification (3A) of the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association.

Asheville is Cabarrus’ biggest home-school rivalry. While the Trailblazers won the first regular-season matchup, a 3-2 decision at Frank Liske Park, the Stallions won 2-0 at Asheville, their first victory over their rival in program history.

It was a boost of confidence the Stallions thrived on as they entered the state tournament.

Stepanek’s breakout season, scoring 28 goals and adding 14 assists, was key to the Stallions’ success. So were the team’s senior leadership and defense.

Hicks, Gossage, Marshall Frank and Stan Brockington were also senior leaders in the backfield. Brockington also scored 10 goals from his right back position.

“We had more kids show up for tryouts than what we thought,” Williams said. “More kids with soccer skills. We knew from the get-go there was some potential there to have our best season yet.

“The team was pretty solid top to bottom. Sometimes you have a few players on the field you’re trying to hide. Our best players weren’t much better than our worst players. We had a lot of depth.”

Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at joehabina@yahoo.com.

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