Hough High’s boys’ soccer team is back in the fourth round of the N.C. public schools 4A playoffs.
It just took the Huskies a little longer than expected to get there, knocking off former I-Meck 4A rival Lake Norman in a penalty-kick shootout Wednesday.
After battling to a 2-2 tie through 110 minutes of regulation and overtime play, fourth-seeded Hough (21-3-1) connected on three of four penalty kicks, while the fifth-seeded Wildcats (20-5) made just one of four.
Huskies goalkeeper Bryce Deeringer came up with a key save on Lake Norman’s second attempt to keep Hough in the match, then watched as the Wildcats badly missed on their next two attempts.
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“I just guessed the right way, and made it happen,” said Deeringer, now 3-0 in his career in penalty-kick shootouts.
The win was the Huskies’ seventh in a row.
Hough will next face Charlotte Catholic – ranked No. 1 in the state among 4A teams in the latest N.C. Soccer Coaches Association poll – at 7 p.m. Saturday, with the winner advancing to the Western Regional final.
“This is going to give us a great confidence boost,” Deeringer said. “Those guys are big, strong and fast. But we’ve got a deep bench, and we can keep up with them. It ought to be a good game.”
But to get there, the Huskies had to get past Lake Norman, which came into Wednesday’s game having survived a penalty-kick shootout against Porter Ridge two days earlier.
Cade McCurry had scored on a 45-yard free kick 6 minutes into the first half to put Hough ahead, and Hugh Chatham fought between two defenders 4 minutes into the first 10-minute overtime for another Huskies lead.
But the Wildcats responded both times, with Ernad Masic twice connecting on 25-yard free kicks – at the 31-minute mark of the first half, and with less than 2 minutes remaining in the second 10-minute overtime – to tie the score.
“When it comes down to this (penalty kick) situation, you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” Lake Norman coach Ryan Villiard said. “There’s been a couple games where we’ve had to fight back, but that’s what we’ve preached throughout this whole thing.”