It was a foregone conclusion that Mount Airy’s and Surry Central’s soccer teams would be in the state playoffs this season. The Granite Bears tied Bishop McGuinness for the Northwest 1-A Conference championship, then lost a shootout by one goal to decide the conference’s top seed. The Golden Eagles shared the Western Piedmont 2-A title with Forbush, then won a draw for that league’s top seed.
Down the road, East Surry had no such expectations. In fact, coach Mike Lowery spoke as if the Cardinals’ season was completed after they held off county rival North Surry 2-1 in a match last Friday night.
The Cardinals (5-14 overall) slipped into the field as the 29th seed in the 1-A West Region. They’ll have a tough road to start out and perhaps tougher going forward, but they’re in.
East Surry opens the playoffs at fourth-seeded Union Academy (14-4-3) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Monroe. Union won the Uwharrie Athletic 1-A with a perfect 10-0 league record.
The teams have no common opponents, having mostly stayed within their own area to find opponents. The only thing certain in the match-up is that the Cardinals will win it — the two schools share that nickname.
The Bears, after losing the shootout with Bishop, still earned the 10th seed and a first-round home match due to their excellent 15-5-1 overall record. Their first-round opponent is Roxboro Community, which played its way into the field as the No. 23 seed as an at-large team from the North Central Athletic 1-A, a conference made up of charter schools from the Raleigh-Durham area. The Bulldogs went 7-14 overall, but did knock off two much larger schools, Oxford Webb and Person, earlier in the season.
Mount Airy coach Will Hurley said that Roxboro is a bit of a mystery to him, and likely to remain that way until the teams hit the field.
“I don’t know anything about them other than what I saw on MaxPreps, which was their record,” Hurley said. “In soccer, we haven’t gotten to where we exchange tapes like in football.”
Hurley said he was glad the Bears were placed in a different draw, having frequently been assigned to face Central Tar Heel Conference teams such as North Moore in postseason play.
“We’d been playing the same teams over and over in the playoffs,” he said. “This year, I would have liked to have a (better) seed, but I think we’re good enough to play out of it. We’ve just got to stay focused and take it one game at a time.”
The match is scheduled for tomorrow night at 6 p.m., weather permitting.
The NW1A is very well represented in the field. Bishop received the sixth seed and hosts the eighth-place North Central team, Kestrel Heights, in the first round. Walkertown is the 15th seed and hosts Woods Charter, the North Central No. 4, in the first round. Even Atkins made it into the field, as the 30th seed visiting Starmount. Every NW1A team but East Surry is in Quadrant 4 and could potentially play a league rival before the regional final.
Surry Central draws 4 seed
The Golden Eagles were one of the area’s top teams all season. They tied Forbush for first in the WP2A after winning a 1-0 thriller on Oct. 26 that wasn’t decided until 12 seconds remained in the match.
Surry Central already knew it would host in the first round, but had to sweat out a draw with the Falcons on Saturday for the top playoff seed. Coach Blake Roth won the draw.
Early Monday morning, preliminary brackets had Central as the No. 4 seed in the West, and after adjustments, that held up. The Golden Eagles (18-3-2) will host Lincolnton at 6 p.m. in Wednesday’s opening round. The only possible way that Surry Central would have to play a road game before the regional finals would be to reach the fourth round and get top-seeded Salisbury as an opponent.
The Wolves (7-10-3) are the fifth-place team out of the Southern District 7 Conference, qualifying as an at-large team on overall record. They have no common opponents with the Eagles.
After losing the draw for the top seed, Forbush received the No. 11 seed and opens at home against Parkwood. Other WP2A teams in the field included West Stokes, the 20th seed opening the playoffs at 13th-seeded Hendersonville; and South Stokes, the 31st seed opening at No. 2 Chase. If West Stokes and Surry Central both win, they will meet in the second round, but South Stokes and Forbush are in another quadrant and can’t meet the Eagles before the regional final.
Reach John on Twitter at @johncate73.