The first of Saturday’s N.C. High School Athletic Association boys soccer state championship games at N.C. State will feature the only two nationally-ranked teams left.
Cardinal Gibbons, ranked 13th in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer.com, faces No. 43 Hough for the 4A title at 11 a.m.
Gibbons (22-0-2), which beat Heritage 6-1 in the Huskies’ first trip to the East final on Tuesday, won NCHSAA 3A titles in 2010, 2011 and 2014. Hough (24-1), which has won 23 straight games, has never played for the boys’ title but has two girls’ championships.
Another shot: In the 5 p.m. game, Chapel Hill gets a chance to avenge last year’s heartbreaking state final loss when it faces Asheville’s A.C. Reynolds High. The Tigers (22-4-1) lost 1-0 to Marvin Ridge last year. The only goal came in the first half on a penalty kick after Chapel Hill was whistled for a foul in the box.
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In the East final on Tuesday, Chapel Hill’s Ryan Smith scored a golden goal in the 104th minute (or, third overtime period) to win at Lee County 3-2. In the West, Reynolds (23-3-2) defeated Marvin Ridge on PKs, 5-4, after a 0-0 tie after regulation and all overtime periods.
Patriots go for another: Franklin Academy (23-0-1) could pick up its second 1A championship of the fall in the 8 p.m. game, where the Patriots play Bishop McGuinness (18-2-3). Franklin Academy also won the girls cross country title earlier this month.
Bishop, like Gibbons, is one of three Catholic schools in the NCHSAA, with the other being Charlotte Catholic. Franklin Academy, which won the 2015 title, is a charter school in Wake Forest. Franklin Academy defeated Raleigh Charter 2-1 in the East final.
4A: 1-Cardinal Gibbons (22-0-2) vs 1-Hough (24-1), 11 a.m.
2A: 2-First Flight (21-1) vs 1-Newton-Conover (26-0-2), 2 p.m.
3A: 5-Chapel Hill (22-4-1) vs 1-A.C. Reynolds (23-3-2), 5 p.m.
1A: 1-Franklin Academy (23-0-1) vs 2-Bishop McGuinness (18-2-3), 8 p.m.