The West Wilkes soccer team clinched a berth in the 2A state playoffs after shutting out North Wilkes, 1-0, in Millers Creek on March 10.
The Blackhawks will play in the postseason for the first time since 2014, when they were shut out 5-0 at Forbush in the first round of the playoffs.
West (7-3-2) will play at Hendersonville (8-2) in a first round game on Tuesday. It will be the programs' first matchup since at least 2010.
“It feels great” to make the playoffs, said West Assistant Coach Quintin Parsons. “It’s something I wasn’t able to do while playing (and graduating in 2019), so I’m happy I got to coach a team that did make it.”
After a scoreless first half, West struck paydirt with about 10 minutes left in the game. Sophomore striker Alexi Ramires, the team’s leading scorer, dribbled past a defender and then crossed the ball to freshman forward Kevin Gonzalez.
Gonzalez half volleyed the ball into the bottom corner of the net for the game winner.
Senior goalie Dylan Miller recorded his third shutout of the season and has allowed only 14 goals all year. At halftime, Miller and fellow seniors Kyle Fuentus and Roman Perez were recognized on senior night.
“Dylan played amazing and had a lot of good saves in the first half to keep us in the game,” said Parsons. “Him and the defense have been solid this year.”
The Blackhawks took third place in the Mountain Valley 1A/2A Athletic Conference behind 1A schools Elkin and league-leading Starmount. Ashe County, the other 2A playoff contender, finished its season at 6-5-1 after a 3-1 loss at Starmount on March 10.
“The whole team is excited for the playoff games and hopefully we can go and win some games,” added Parsons.
The Vikings dropped to 4-7 with a game left in their season.
“This game was very disappointing to me as a coach,” said North’s James Cline. “If we could have carried our momentum from our (March 9) match versus East Wilkes then we could have possibly won this match versus West.”
Cline said his team “seemed a little dazed and confused. Brayden McGlamery and Yeferson Bonilla had solid games and showed senior leadership while playing extremely hard.”
West gained a season sweep of North, even though both matches were tightly contested. The Blackhawks beat the Vikings 2-1 in Hays on Feb. 23, with Ramires and Rodney Perez notching goals.
North trips East
In the season finale for both teams, North Wilkes defeated East Wilkes in Ronda on Thursday, 3-1. It was North’s fourth straight win over East.
Sophomore midfielder/striker Nolan Stanley scored the first two goals for the Vikings, who finished the season at 5-7 and in fifth place in the MVAC. Stanley was selected as Coach James Cline’s player of the game.
Stanley’s first goal came on a breakout run with around 19 seconds left in the first half. His second came off a corner kick, when his shot glanced off a Cardinal defender and into the net.
Gracen Cline, a sophomore forward, had the third goal for North in the second half. He kicked home a crossing shot from the left side of the pitch near the touch line.
“We gave a great effort in the second half of the match,” said Coach Cline. “We started off slow at the beginning of the season. However, the past two weeks have been great for the kids.
“We are a young squad that is only losing four seniors. North Wilkes has a bright future ahead for the next two to three years with the young talent that we have.”
Senior Yeferson Bonilla assisted on two of the Viking goals.
Brayden McGlamery, also a senior, saved one of the two Cardinal shots on goal.
On senior night, East senior Adalian Ventura-Trinidad scored with under 10 minutes left the second half on a penalty kick.
The Cardinals finished sixth in the MVAC standings with a 2-10 record.
North boots East
North Wilkes got a pair of goals from sophomore Ivan Duran in a 5-1 victory over East Wilkes in Hays on March 9.
Sophomore Gracen Cline had a goal and assists for the Vikings (4-6) and sophomore Nolan Stanley notched a pair of assists.
“We dominated the mid-field with efforts from Yeferson Bonilla, Samuel Panneton, Ivan Duran, Gracen Cline, Nolan Stanley and Mathew Pardo,” said North Coach James Cline.
Also scoring for North were senior Bonilla and freshman Pardo.
Senior goalkeeper Brayden McGlamery saved seven of East’s eight shots on goal.
East dropped to 2-9 in MVAC play after its third-straight loss to North. Prior, the Cardinals had beaten the Vikings in six consecutive matches.