Porter Ridge’s suffocating defense brought an end to South Mecklenburg’s reign as 4A boys’ state soccer champions Saturday night, shutting down the Sabres 2-0 in a N.C. 4A quarterfinal.
The Pirates, running their record to 25-0-2, scored twice in a little more than two minutes late in the first half and relied on their defense the rest of the way. Porter Ridge has allowed only nine goals in 27 games this season.
The Pirates will entertain Hough on Tuesday or Wednesday in a state semifinal, with the winner playing for the 4A title next Saturday in Raleigh. Hough beat Skyland Roberson 5-1 in the mountains Saturday.
South Mecklenburg (23-3-1) outshot the Pirates 18-11 but couldn’t solve Porter Ridge goalkeeper Julio Rangel, who had seven saves. The Pirates converted several South Meck attacks into counter plays that kept Sabre goalie Dylan Rice busy much of the night.
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“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Porter Ridge coach Ron Ladimir said. “It’s a total team thing for us. We’re really committed to it.”
Sabre forward Cameron Barnes had a point-blank shot at goal midway through the first half, but a Porter Ridge defender headed the ball away. Rangel made an excellent save eight minutes later on a South Meck free kick.
And that seemed to spur the Porter Ridge attack. Less than a minute after the missed Sabre free kick, Porter Ridge’s Karl-Heinz Reichert stole the ball and flicked it to teammate Jackson Wheatley, who evaded Rice and calmly kicked the ball into the net.
A bit more than two minutes later, Zack Colaianni’s pass from the corner rebounded out to teammate Eric Brewer, who fired a blistering shot into the Sabre goal for a 2-0 lead.
South Meck pressed play in the final 15 minutes of the second half and had several opportunities, but they were all turned away by Rangel or the rest of the Porter Ridge defense.
“I think we were a bit cautious early in the game, but we got over that and started playing our style,” Ladimir said.
Quote: “We worked hard to get home playoff games, and it paid off. It’s nice to play these games at home.” – Porter Ridge head coach Ron Ladimir.
Records: South Mecklenburg finished 23-3-1; Porter Ridge is 25-0-2.
Worth mentioning: Porter Ridge defender Miguel Elcorrobarrution seemed to be everywhere in the first half, breaking up at least a half-dozen South Meck attacks … Sabre forward Reed Hunnicutt, who played a big role in his team-s 3-1 victory Thursday at Providence, led the attack again Saturday. He came closing to scoring with 4:30 left in the first half, but his shot from 10 feet went over the goal … Pirates’ forward Karl-Heinz Reichert assisted on one goal and took three other shots … Time after time, the Sabres pushed the ball into the Porter Ridge side of the field, only to have the attack swallowed up by the Pirate defense.
What's Next: Porter Ridge will host Hough in a 4A semifinal, either Tuesday or Wednesday. South Mecklenburg’s season is finished.
NCHSAA Soccer Update
4A West Quarterfinals: Hough 5, Skyland Roberson 1; Porter Ridge 2, South Meck 0
Regional final, by Wednesday: Hough at Porter Ridge
3A West Quarterfinals: Marvin Ridge 4, Weddington 3; Asheville Reynolds 3, Cox Mill 1
Regional final, by Wednesday: Marvin Ridge vs. Reynolds
2A West Quarterfinals: Lake Norman Charter 2, Newton-Conover 1; Chase 4, Franklin 2
Regional final, By Wednesday: Lake Norman Charter vs. Chase
1A West Quarterfinals: Bishop McGuinness 1, Queens Grant 0; Community School of Davidson 3, Thomas Jefferson 0
Regional final, by Wednesday: Bishop McGuinness at Community School of Davidson