Southern Nash tops Southern Lee in round 2 as game halted by fight
Posted on November 5, 2021
Stock photo | Pixabay
STANHOPE - A 5-2 win by host Southern Nash over Southern Lee in the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A boys soccer playoffs ended prematurely due to a bench-clearing scrap on the field Wednesday night.
The game officials called the match with about 16 minutes left as the dominant Firebirds rode their high-powered offensive attack to an 18th straight win.
“I think the kids really came out and played really hard,” said Southern Nash head coach Carlos Barron. “They gave everything they had and played really high-level soccer. Aside from the two goals we gave up, I feel like we really outplayed Southern Lee for most of the game if not all of the game.”
Southern Nash (23-2-1), the champion of the 2-A/3-A Big East Conference and the No. 4 seed in the 3-A East bracket, will host No. 21 Western Alamance in the third round Monday, assuming there will be no repercussions from the altercation. The No. 13 Cavaliers, the No. 3 team from the 3-A/4-A Sandhills Conference, saw their season end with a 14-7-1 ledger.
The game came to an early end shortly after the Firebirds scored their fifth goal. After being brought down in the offensive zone, a Southern Lee player rose to his feet and kicked a Southern Nash player. That led to a gathering of both teams, including players leaving the bench areas, and an altercation that lasted under a minute. Barron said it was his belief that Southern Lee instigated the fight, which is supported by video of the incident on Southern Nash’s YouTube channel.
“I feel that it’s very unfortunate,” Barron said. “I think that it takes from the game. But definitely, sometimes with teenagers at that level with an intense game, it can be very chippy and all it takes is one bad reaction to a play and it can definitely ignite something like that.”
The whole thing didn’t last a minute, however, largely thanks to Barron, Southern Nash athletics director Robbie Kennedy and other members of the school’s administration holding players back or getting them off the field as quickly as they ran onto it.
“I was very thankful for them being there,” Barron said.
Barron is awaiting an official decision from the NCHSAA regarding the possibility of players being suspended, but believes the Firebirds will still move on to face Western Alamance.
“I’m trying to just get the team ready for Monday the best I can, and make sure when Monday comes we’re ready to go,” Barron said.
Raul Nunez led the Firebirds with two goals and an assist, Jared Gonzalez notched two assists, Frank Gonzalez and Jose Nunez each found the back of the net and Alex Benitez made four saves.
“The guys were locked in and focused and really got after it,” Barron said. “They are playing high-level soccer right now.”
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