South Mecklenburg boys’ soccer coach Eric White said he kept telling his team Thursday night that things eventually would turn their way.
The Sabres made it rather dramatic, but they proved their coach right in a 3-1 overtime victory over host Providence in a third-round 4A state playoff match.
Providence came less than a minute away from dethroning the defending state champions, but South Mecklenburg got a game-tying goal from leading scorer Ethan DeSilva with 43 seconds remaining in regulation and then a goal in each of the 10-minute overtimes.
“We never thought the match was over,” said White, whose team had lost twice to the Panthers in the regular season. “Before we went into the overtime, I told them to keep doing what they were doing … that it would work out for us.
“We have a fit team, so I felt we’d do well in overtime.”
On the tying goal, DeSilva got control of the ball about 20 yards in front of the Providence goal and lofted a left-footed kick into the right side of the net.
In the first overtime, reserve midfielder Angel Rebolledo took a pass from senior forward Reed Hunnicutt and sailed it over Providence goalkeeper Patrick Saffer for what turned out to be the winning goal.
Hunnicutt then blasted a shot past Saffer midway through the second overtime for the insurance goal that sends South Mecklenburg into the quarterfinals Saturday,
Providence had taken the lead with about 24 minutes remaining when 6-foot-3 forward Rotimi Adewumi leaped over several Sabre defenders and headed the ball into the goal.
Quote: “We have 10 players back from last year’s (state title) team, and that really helps in games like tonight.” – South Mecklenburg coach Eric White.
Records: South Mecklenburg is 22-2-1; Providence is 19-1-3.
Worth mentioning: The Sabres’ Reed Hunnicutt had a huge night. He assisted on the first and second goals and scored the third … South Mecklenburg outshot Providence 22-8, including 7-2 in the two overtimes … Providence sophomore forward Luis Romero nearly scored in the ninth minute, faking out the Sabre goalkeeper and getting off a point-blank shot. But South Meck defender Alec Hartman headed the ball away … In the teams’ earlier meetings this season, Providence won 3-1 on Oct. 11 and 1-0 on Oct. 24. Both teams are in the Southern Meck 8 4A Conference … South Mecklenburg beat Providence 1-0 in the state playoff semifinals last season, on route to the 4A title.
What's Next: South Mecklenburg plays in the state 4A quarterfinals, at Porter Ridge at 6 p.m. Saturday. Providence’s season is finished.
Thursday’s Soccer Roundup
Porter Ridge 2, Mount Tabor 0: Andrew Curcione and Joseph Gonzalez scored for the Pirates (24-0-2). Julio Rangel got the shutout in the 4A third round match. Porter Ridge will host reigning 4A champ South Meck Saturday at 6.
Marvin Ridge 4, Concord 0: Matt Winesette, Simon Faille, Matthew Ranshaw and Nick Jones scored for the Mavericks. Dimitri Lavin, Ranshaw, Jones and Faille had assists. Marvin Ridge will play Union County rival Weddington at home Saturday in a big fourth round match.
Cox Mill 3, West Henderson 0: Cox Mill got scores from Zack Savage, Jordan Clark and Scott Young to advance to the quarterfinals. Ian Krebs got the shutout. Cox Mill will play host to Asheville Reynolds in a fourth round match Saturday.
Lake Norman Charter 3, Surry Central 1: Lake Norman Charter (20-1) won in overtime, getting its 18th straight victory. Lake Norman Charter, which will play Newton-Conover in a fourth round match Saturday, got two goals in the second overtime from Riley Benz and Connor Hahn. Ibrahim Houissa scored Lake Norman Charter’s first goal.