The Lake Norman boys' soccer team has dominated the state like no other team in any sport for the last two seasons. The Wildcats are not only a perfect 56-0 with two straight state championships, but also have outscored opponents 239-22 in that span.
Now, nine games short of the state record of 65 wins in a row, the Wildcats are starting over with just one starter returning from last year's team. However, Lake Norman has one major constant coming back in head coach Jon Mertes, who has been with Lake Norman since the program started in 2001 (six years as an assistant).
“It's hard not to think about the streak (56 wins in a row),” said Mertes, whose boys' team last lost Nov. 12, 2005, to Mooresville in the state quarterfinals. “But, I think we've basically got a whole new team coming in (this season). This team will have to be focused every minute of every game. There's not as much room for error.”
Senior captain Joe Hughes is the lone returning starter, and will direct the team on both sides of the ball from his central midfield position. Midfielder Marty Myslinski and forward Parker Cromie will lead the offense. Senior central defender Dominic Dremel will lead the defense with goalkeepers Dalton Bauer and Nick Hensley splitting time.
Mertes says he thinks the Wildcats have a good shot at the record and at least a conference title.
“I think this team just needs to focus on getting better every game,” Mertes said. “Records and championships will take care of themselves.”
If Lake Norman continues to win, the Wildcats will have a chance to tie the record Sept. 17, when they host North Iredell. Lake Norman also would have a chance to break it at home against Northwest Cabarrus Sept. 22.
The North Meck boys' soccer team also is ranked in the top 5 in the 4A preseason poll. The Vikings, the defending ME-CA 7 champions, are No. 3 in 4A coming off a 21-2-2 season where they lost in the state semifinals to Grimsley.
Former Miami Dolphin Karl Noonan, who lives in the Denver area, is helping host the Hebron Ministry Golf Tournament this weekend in Boone. Noonan played wide receiver for the Dolphins and was a part of the undefeated Super Bowl champions in 1972. Celebrities including former N.C. State basketball star Tommy Burleson, the voice of Duke basketball Bob Harris, former Clemson and Chicago Bear Donnell Woolford and former Panthers Tim McKeyer and Rod Smith are expected.
Proceeds will help recovering drug and alcohol addicts.
Two former NFL linebackers also are making their coaching debuts in the Charlotte area. Former Dallas Cowboy star Vinson Smith begins the Statesville Christian football program when the Lions travel to the Cannon School for their first game ever Sept. 4.
Meanwhile, former Redskins linebacker Kurt Gouveia will lead his 12-and-under Lake Norman Fighting Irish team Aug. 30 (opponent TBD).