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Heartbreaking loss ends Central's season


Central Davidson's Drew Turner (21) battles Weddington keeper Kevin Ovendorf for a throw-in during their 3-A second-round state playoff match on Saturday at Spartan Community Stadium. (Photo by Mike Duprez/The Dispatch)


 

In a span of two minutes Saturday night, Central Davidson saw its lead, its momentum and its record-setting boys' soccer season virtually disappear courtesy of Weddington.

The Warriors tallied a pair of decisive goals within two minutes of each other — and in the game's final 11 minutes —to forge ahead and then held on for a 2-1 win in the second round of the 3-A state playoffs at Spartan Community Stadium.

The loss ended the Spartans' magical season at 21-4 and left players and coaches alike stunned.

"This is very tough," said a somber Charlie Killebrew, one of nine seniors on the team and Davidson County's all-time leader in goals scored. "But it would be tough any way it ended. We played our hearts out the whole game. Them getting those two goals like that was just unfortunate."

Killebrew finished the season with a county-record 56 goals, a total which also ranks in the top 10 single-season efforts in N.C. High School Athletic Association history. He ended up with 119 career goals, also a county record.

For Weddington, the-late game sequence couldn't have been more fortunate or a bigger tribute to being persistent.

The majority of the game was spent with Central on the defensive, goalie Andrew Curry diving right and left to make fantastic saves and the Warriors missing on multiple golden opportunities to score.

Through it all, and up until the 69th minute, Central led 1-0, courtesy of a converted penalty kick by Killebrew, which came 13 minutes into the game.

"At halftime I told the kids to be patient and hang in there," said Weddington coach Powell Williams, whose team finished third in the tough Southern Carolina Conference. "I thought (getting a goal) was eventually going to happen. I knew coming in (Central) was playing behind their top goal scorer (Killebrew) and they were coming in fired up. 

We certainly had some chances in the first half but their goalie was absolutely brilliant."

Curry's first stab came just seven minutes in and it robbed speedy Ethan McClain of a goal. Then shortly after Killebrew found the back of the net, Curry stopped a screeching 25-yard boot from Zack Wallace. The sophomore certainly kept Central in the game and protected the 1-0 lead as long as he could.

"I have been feeling good and when the playoffs started I guess I have been at a higher level than usual," said Curry. "I give credit to coach Lineberry and coach Bradley for helping me prepare. It seemed like (Weddington) had chances most of the game. I just thought we could hold them off."

As the second half unfolded, the Central faithful kept an eye on the clock, hoping it would run out before the Warriors could actually break through. That eventually happened when Nick Ngwaw headed in a throw-in from Matt Allison. Central did catch a break seconds after the play, however, as Ngwaw was given a red card and ejected for taunting the Spartan sideline. Even playing a man down didn't seem to phase the Warriors, who kept attacking and got the game-winning goal from McClain in the 71st minute. McClain corralled a loose ball right outside the box, turned and fired a shot past a diving Curry.

Central frantically picked up the pace in the waning minutes, trying to save its season. As the final horn sounded, Dylan Collier's shot from the left side of the goal looked like it had a chance to tie the game, only to be snuffed out by the Warrior defense at the goal.

"We went all the way to the final whistle, didn't we?" said Central coach Chad Hench. "They were a little bit better than us tonight. We did not attack enough and we wound up playing their game. We just didn't have it clicking tonight and they really took away our attack out of the midfield. We had a couple of chances to get that second goal, and who knows, maybe that does them in."

Hench and his players didn't seem to want to leave the field after the game.

"Obviously, with the season we've had, we will all feel this for a couple of days," Hench said. "But after that, I hope we can look back and see how special it was. To go through the season and break pretty much every record you have ...it is just special. And this has been such a special bunch of guys."

Weddington, which improved to 16-7, advances to meet St. Stephens in the third round.