Gray Stone Day overcomes Hobbton to win 1A soccer championship.

Gray Stone Day overcomes Hobbton to win 1A soccer championship.

Gray Stone Day had put their skills to the test against larger schools throughout the season, including a close match against eventual 4A West runner-up Hickory Ridge. Their hard work paid off on Saturday at MacPherson Stadium in Browns Summit.

The Knights emerged victorious in the N.C. High School Athletic Association boys soccer championship, securing a 3-1 win against Hobbton in the 1A championship match.

The Knights finished the 2023 season with a perfect record in their last 22 games. Despite this, Gray Stone (21-2-2) had to make a comeback to win their first title.

Hobbton (23-4-1) scored first with a goal in the 19th minute by Ever Reyes, who redirected a corner kick from Henry Jorge into the near side net.

In the 30th minute, the Knights tied the game with a powerful shot from Desmond Bullard outside the penalty area that passed through a crowded defense.

According to Brad Harrington, the coach of Gray Stone, we were aware that by continually passing the ball and having confidence in our abilities, while also playing it to our teammates’ feet, we could tire out our opponents in the second half.

Following a tied first half score of 1-1, Gray Stone Day gained a 2-1 advantage in the 51st minute when Arkyn Pethel capitalized on a rebound from a long-distance shot by Bullard that slipped past the goalkeeper.

In the 58th minute, they extended their lead to 3-1 with Bullard scoring his second goal of the day and his 34th of the year. He positioned himself at the back post and skillfully volleyed in a corner kick delivered by Donovan Christlieb.

The support from the brace made Bullard an obvious choice for MVP.

Bullard described his first goal as a result of using the same technique he practices regularly, and he was fortunate to score a remarkable goal. Regarding his second goal, he mentioned how he maintained his focus on the ball throughout the play. Despite one opponent having a chance to intercept it, the ball went over his head and Bullard successfully directed it towards the goal, resulting in a lucky goal for his team.

This was the first time both Hobbton and Gray Stone Day appeared in the championship. Hobbton had won 11 consecutive matches leading up to the game and was the top seed in the 1A East. Gray Stone Day, on the other hand, was the third seed from the 1A West and had been on a winning streak after a slow start with a record of 1-2-1.

The Wildcats were eagerly anticipating the path to the finals, achieving an NCHSAA championship for the first time in 30 years in any sport.

Coach Jonathon Jacobs stated that the assistance for the Hobbton community and soccer has been immense from the Wildcats.

Prior to the competition, a representative from each team was presented with NCHSAA sportsmanship accolades. Reyes received the award for Hobbton, while Michael Burleson was recognized for Gray Stone Day.