Tuesday, 14 November 2017 22:29

Hough headed to 4A soccer state final

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Jackson Raymer celebrates his goal Tuesday. Jackson Raymer celebrates his goal Tuesday. Durane Byrd Photography

Jackson Raymer’s goal in the 36th minute of Tuesday’s state semifinal sent him running and leaping toward the Hough bench, like he was a triple jumper rather than a forward with 43 goals this year.

The critical first goal of the night belonged to the Huskies, and Raymer was excited. He pumped his fist in the air.

“The nerves just go away,” he said.

Raymer's score set Hough on its way against Providence, and a trio of second-half goals secured a 4-1 win and punched Hough’s ticket to Saturday’s 4A state final.

“We finally broke through the door,” said senior A.J. Whisenant, who scored the team’s fourth goal with 16 minutes to play.

Hough (24-1) was playing in its fifth state semifinal in eight years, but the West Region’s top-seeded team will be making its first state finals appearance in boys soccer (the Hough girls won 4A titles in 2012 and 2014) when it faces East No. 1 Cardinal Gibbons at 11 a.m. at N.C. State. Gibbons (22-0-2) advanced with a 6-1 semifinal win over Heritage.

Providence (21-1-3) entered Tuesday’s match having allowed eight goals all season, but the Huskies struck three times in a five-minute span of the second half to pull away.

“Sometimes with our team, it can click in a matter of seconds,” said Nick Piro, whose goal in the 59th minute made it 3-0.

Raymer was fouled in the box midway through the second half, and Adam Finke converted his first penalty kick of the season to make it 2-0.

“We got the momentum and didn’t let it go,” said Finke.

Providence notched an own goal amid a flurry in front of the goal with 14 minutes left.

Hough coach David Smith said the team has had its best practices of the season the last three weeks, and acknowledged the solid play of his defense and senior keeper Jacob Humer.

“He’s been fantastic,” said Smith. “He gained so much confidence last year, and the boys just trust him.”

Tim Healy's Cardinal Gibbons team has won five state titles, including three at the 3A level and two at 2A.


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