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Spartans work OT for first soccer conference title

Central Davidson’s Charlie Killebrew (right) celebrates with Dylan Collier (17), Andy Killebrew (5), Jose Rodriguez-Castillo and other teammates after Killebrew scored the go-ahead goal in overtime against Ledford on Wednesday night.

WALLBURG | Twenty-five years ago, Chad Hench was a part of a team that won its conference championship in soccer.

Wednesday, he got to celebrate once again.

Charlie Killebrew scored two goals, his second with 1:47 left in the first overtime period, to lead the Spartans to a 3-1 victory over Ledford. Central moved to 18-3 overall, setting a school record for wins in a season, and 9-1 in the Mid-Piedmont Conference, clinching the first conference championship in school history. Killebrew ran his season goals total to 50, padding his county record set earlier this week.

In all, it has been quite a ride. “I don’t have much to say,” Hench said through tears. “This group of boys … and I’ve grown up with them.

“To get the first one with them, it means a lot.”

Hench’s son, Jonathan, is a junior at Central, and has played soccer with many of his current teammates since before he started kindergarten. So when Chad Hench says he has watched this group grow up, he means it. “These juniors and seniors, I’ve seen for so long,” he added. “I’ve watched them come up. And they’ve had a magical season.”

It wasn’t clear if they would continue that magical season Wednesday. Anderson Norris lofted a throw-in in front of the net midway through the first half that deflected off a couple of players before Killebrew redirected it far post to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead. But Ledford, which controlled possession for long stretches and applied heavy ball pressure all night, countered less than 10 minutes later. Preston Shoaf lined up for a corner kick, and Kevin Mogollan came flying in and rammed it home to tie things up at 1-1. Central keeper Andrew Curry preserved the tie with a nice save on Edgar Salinas’ header with 30 seconds left in the half.

The Panthers kept up the intensity in the second half, and actually scored a pair of goals — one from Viciente Luna and another from Jonathan Vasquez — but both were waved off when they were called for offsides. Central’s defense actually formed a wall at the 10 for much of the second half, and rarely drifted closer to the goal. The young Panthers, with six freshmen and sophomores on the field, couldn’t stay disciplined and often fell for the offside trap.

Ledford coach John Blake knew, a tight game like that one had more than its fair share of near-misses. “If we put those two in that we were offsides on, we hit one off the post, had one go right through the keeper’s hands,” he said. “Honestly, it could have been the other way around.”

Central nearly scored with 13 minutes left in regulation, when Killebrew picked a throw-in out of the air and dinked it off the post. That was 10 minutes after Rodriguez-Castillo’s shot hit the post and Andy Killebrew sent the rebound over the net.

The overtime periods were all Central. Drew Turner chased down a loose ball near the end line and sent a cross to Charlie Killebrew in front of the net. Killebrew headed it over Edgar Deras for the go-ahead goal, and that completely deflated the Panthers. Dylan Collier tacked on a goal with nine seconds left for the nail in the coffin.

Ledford slipped to 8-8-4 overall, 4-5-2 in the league. The Panthers visit Asheboro on Monday, while Central travels to Southwestern Randolph on Monday.

Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220, or