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SOUTHWEST ROLLS PAST SLUGGISH HP CENTRAL\ PLAYOFF SPOT REMAINS
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SOUTHWEST ROLLS PAST SLUGGISH HP CENTRAL\ PLAYOFF SPOT REMAINS

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SW Guilford 7 \ HP Central 2

Southwest Guilford erupted for five second-half goals to whip High Point Central 7-2 Tuesday night at Simeon Stadium and clinch its second consecutive Piedmont Athletic 3-A soccer championship.

Sophomore midfielder Nathan Stephens led the second-half onslaught with two goals and added a pair of assists, lifting the Cowboys to 11-2 in the conference and 15-4 overall. The win left Southwest with a two-game lead over Southeast Guilford and Ragsdale with one game remaining in the conference race.Southeast edged High Point Andrews 3-2, and Ragsdale crushed Southern Guilford 10-1 Tuesday to improve to 9-4 in the PAC 3-A, assuring both teams playoff bids. One conference bid remains.

High Point Central fell to 8-5 in the conference and 10-8 overall but can wrap up the fourth and final playoff spot with a win over Trinity (7-6) Thursday night.

The first 40 minutes was anything but a blowout as the Bison used a goal by Chris Brenner with 10 seconds left in the half to tie the game at 2-2. High Point Central freshman striker Miguel Ramirez skidded a short pass between two Cowboy defenders and Brenner snuck in from the left corner to redirect the ball beyond the outstretched arms of Southwest goalkeeper Todd Dorrell.

The play seemingly gave the Bison momentum heading into the second half. But Southwest coach Carl Fleming had a few choice words for his players during the intermission.

``I can't really say what I told them,' Fleming joked after the game. ``I got on to the guys a little. It wasn't that we were complacent, but we just let down a little at the end of the half. You just don't give up goals like that 19 games into the season.

``I basically told them they had 40 minutes to right what we did wrong in the first half,' he said.

It didn't take the Cowboys long to start making up for their first-half errors. Two minutes into the second half, Stephens dribbled down the right sideline on a breakaway, forcing High Point Central goalkeeper Charlie Kearns out of the goal. Stephens then centered the ball to a wide-open Brian Thoma to give the Cowboys a 3-2 lead with 37:53 left in the game.

Seven minutes later, Stephens scored on a perfect crossing pass from Mike Ray to push the lead to 4-2. Stephens gave the Cowboys a three-goal cushion when he beat Kearns on a one-on-one situation with 14:32 left.

The frustration mounted late in the game for Central and culminated when Bison senior Matt James came up swinging after being fouled by a Southwest player. James was ejected.

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