Porter Ridge defeats Indy Patriots 1-0 for the second time this season in the second round of the NCHSAA 4A State Men’s Soccer Playoff Championship. The Pirates defeated the Patriots in September 1-0 in double overtime. So, when these two teams get together it is a very competitive, physical, and always an exciting game.
Despite this tough loss to the Pirates, who are ranked No.2 in the state, No.1 in their bracket and 37th nationally, the Patriots have had a great soccer season this fall. In the first round, Indy shutout Dudley 3-0 on the road. Then with the luck of the draw as the No.9 seed in the bracket, the boys from Mint Hill had to play one of the best teams in the state and nationally.
“Qualifying and getting into the state championship tournament is very big for the Patriots program”, Coach Tyler Gibson said. “It’s was fun and exciting and these kids have a different mindset. We have a very special group of seniors and it’s tough to see them graduate; however, the boys returning next year are hungry for the 2017 season to start. I’m really proud of these young men and their fight against the No.2 team in the state and overall No. 1 seed in the tournament.”
Senior leaders Grant Goodman and Bryan Martinez played outstanding in the back on defense. Omar Gonzalez and Amber Dajee had strong performances with their midfield play. Omar Gonzalez hit a dipping volley off the crossbar about 25 yards from the net that would have tied the game with 5:00 minutes remaining in regulation.
In the team’s big win against Dudley, junior Jack Hebert led the Patriots by scoring two goals, while fellow junior Omar Gonzales scored the clinching goal to put the game out of reach. This combination of stellar plays by the two midfielders, who will be returning next season, led Indy to its historic playoff win. Senior goalkeeper C.J. Thomas, who stands at 6’5” with a wingspan of almost 7 feet, is an intimidating presence in the net and was simply outstanding in recording the shut-out.
The Patriots will be returning seven starters in the 2017 campaign, the team is well coached by four year head coach Tyler Gibson and his assistant coaches, who have turned this program around. With these seasoned players and some new upcoming talent, the expectations will be high. The team goal should be to return to the State Championship Tournament and go deeper into the playoffs.