Eastern Alamance’s men’s soccer team will open play in the NCHSAA 3A state playoffs Wednesday evening with a home match in Fred Brady Stadium against Northern Durham. After getting tripped up the last two seasons by D.H. Conley and Southern Lee in the opening round, the 13-6 Eagles are looking to make a deep run this time around.
EAHS’s veteran squad completed its regular season this past Saturday with a dominant 6-2 victory at McMichael in a match that was postponed three days due to weather. Eastern completed its season sweep of the Phoenix by scoring three goals in the first half for a 3-1 halftime lead, and then tallying three more goals in the season half for its final margin of victory.
Senior Chris Guerrero had his biggest game of the year, recording a hat trick with three goals. Juniors Gustavo Salas and Xzavier Smith and freshman Madi Ceesay also added goals for the victorious Eagles. Smith added an assist, as did seniors Jackson Poteat and Evan Morrison, and junior Kevin Reyes. Reyes was put under the gun several times, and while two Phoenix shots slipped past him for goals, the EAHS goalkeeper recorded a total of 12 saves.
The victory over McMichael cemented Eastern’s place in a tie with Western Alamance for second place in the Mid-State Conference standings. While both the Eagles and Warriors were swept by league champ Northern Guilford, who completed an undefeated run through league play, Eastern and Western both won on the other teams’ home field - the most recent being Western Alamance’s 5-2 win on Senior Night in Mebane back on October 28.
As it turned out, the NCHSAA selection committee looked much more favorably on Eastern’s regular season than it did Western’s. Despite their regular season split and tie in the conference standings, Eagles beat out the Warriors for a higher playoff seeding, as EAHS earned the No. 15 overall seeding in the East Region, while Western drew the No. 21 seed out of 32 schools.
While EAHS will be at home hosting the Knights of the Big 8 Conference, Western has the unenviable task of traveling to No. 12 seed West Johnson in Wednesday’s opening round. Should the Eagles knock off Northern Durham, they will likely have to travel to No. 2 seed Chapel Hill in the second round. The Tigers, 17-4-1 overall, will open postseason play Wednesday with a home match against East Wake.