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.
“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.”