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Western Alamance edges Hickory 1-0 on late penalty in soccer championship
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Western Alamance edges Hickory 1-0 on late penalty in soccer championship

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CARY — After a tightly played opening 75 minutes that saw relatively few chances for either side, Western Alamance managed to generate a forward attack that drew a penalty kick. Ian Bacchus made no mistake with the shot from the penalty spot in the 76th minute, slotting the ball low in the left side to put the Warriors up 1-0 over Hickory and giving the school their first Men’s Soccer State Championship.

Bacchus drew the penalty after Gael Villegas-Duran found some space on the right side of the Hickory box. Villegas-Duran slipped a pass through a pair of Tornado defenders to the top of the penalty area and as Bacchus tried to split the defenders, he was upended in the area and forcing the referee to point to the spot.

It was fitting for Bacchus to take the penalty after drawing the foul, his speed proved a threat throughout the night, forcing Hickory defenders to collapse to him and opening lanes for other Warrior attackers. The goal was Bacchus’ 22nd goal of the season and cemented his selection as 3A State Championship Game Most Valuable Player.

Hickory managed 12 shots in the game, but only one of them got through the Warrior defense on frame, forcing Warrior goalkeeper Spencer Dee to make his only save of the night. Orlando Almanza headed the ball towards the frame on a loose ball in the edge of the Warrior penalty area, requiring the save from Dee.

Hickory wrapped up their season 22-4-1. The Red Tornadoes were 11-2-1 as the champions of the Western Foothills 3A conference. Hickory won the program’s fifth NCHSAA Regional Championship, appearing in the State Championship Match for the first time since 2012.

Western Alamance completed the year 19-5-1. The Warriors finished conference play 9-2-1 in the Central 3A. The Warriors reached the State Championship as the #21 seed in the 3A East, reaching the state final for just the second time in school history and the first time since their initial appearance in the 2A finals in 1997.

The NCHSAA is committed to promoting good sportsmanship and has partnered with NC Farm Bureau to recognize two student-athletes from each state championship who have demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship throughout the year. The winners of the 2021 3A Men’s Soccer NC Farm Bureau Sportsmanship Awards were Robbie Simpson from Western Alamance and Nick Hutto from Hickory.

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