Firebirds’ Nunez named to all-state soccer team | The Enterprise
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Firebirds’ Nunez named to all-state soccer team

Posted on November 29, 2021

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Southern Nash senior Raul Nunez III (11), dribbling the ball during a home match this past season, became the first Firebird since 2013 to earn N.C. Soccer Coaches Association 3-A all-state acclaim.

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Southern Nash senior Raul Nunez III (11), dribbling the ball during a home match this past season, became the first Firebird since 2013 to earn N.C. Soccer Coaches Association 3-A all-state acclaim.

paul@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7808

Making an all-state team of any kind is a extraordinary achievement, but for Southern Nash senior Raul Nunez III, it was even more rare.

Nunez is the first Firebird to be so honored since 2013 when the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association all-state team was unveiled last week.

Joining him on the elite unit is Fike junior Mason Ross, the first goalkeeper from a Wilson County Schools team to earn a spot. Only coaches who are NCSCA members may nominate and vote for all-state and all-region players.

If there was any pressure on Nunez, it came from his own expectations.

“It feels good to have,” he said. “That was one of my goals going into this season. Last year I got all-region, and one of my goals for this season was to get all-state, so it was good to accomplish it.”

The dynamic senior captain is the first Firebird all-state selection since Moises Gonzalez picked up his second straight honor in 2013. In the fall of 2021, Nunez was at the center of the best season in school history as he scored 31 goals and doled out 18 assists in addition to being one of the top students in his senior class as the Firebirds reeled off 23 wins in 24 games after dropping their first two games.

Southern Nash rolled to 14 straight wins in claiming the 2-A/3-A Big East Conference regular-season and tournament titles in unbeaten fashion. However, just as the Firebirds looked as though they were moving into the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs, disaster struck.

A brief on-field altercation near the end of their second-round 5-2 win against Southern Lee attracted several players from both teams, causing game officials to halt the contest at that point. But because NCHSAA rules forbid players from leaving the bench area during an altercation, the Firebirds were forced to forfeit their third-round game against eventual state champion Western Alamance.

But that ending won’t ruin Nunez’s memories of the season.

“It’s not the way we wanted it to end, but I feel like it was a really good season for us,” he said. “I know the first few games we lost, but I think after that we figured it out. Pretty much went undefeated the rest of the season.”

After battling Fike for 3-A Big East Conference supremacy the last eight years, Southern Nash found itself alone at the top of the new 2-A/3-A Big East with the Demons moving over to the Quad County. Nunez said he wasn’t expecting the level of success the Firebirds enjoyed, but they earned it.

“Definitely didn’t see it coming, but it’s something that I wanted,” he said. “You always shoot to win, so it was really good for that to happen.”

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