O'Neal boots long streak vs. Fayetteville Academy
O'Neal boys soccer head coach David Wood doesn't know the last time the Falcons defeated Fayetteville Academy, until Tuesday.
The Falcons celebrated their senior day with a 3-2 victory over the Cape Fear Independent Conference power, which hadn't lost a CFIC match to anyone since 2009. Wood said it's been at least 15 years since O'Neal had beaten Fayetteville Academy.
Fayetteville Academy beat the Falcons 5-0 in early September, as part of the Falcons starting the season with a 2-6-1 overall record. Tuesday's season finale gives the Falcons (11-6-1, 8-2-0) a nine-match winning streak.
"The team never gave up hope that they could turn the season around," Wood said, "and that is exactly what they did."
The Falcons came into their senior day on a mission, Wood said. The team prepared by watching "300" for motivation.
Fayetteville Academy's Bruno Lazaro scored eight minutes into the game. O'Neal adjusted by assigning defender Cole Kirkpatrick to man-mark Lazaro and "essentially took him out of the game," Wood said.
O'Neal began putting more possession and attacking together in the latter stages of the first half. The Falcons had a goal called off for offsides just before halftime and Fayetteville Academy took the 1-0 lead to half.
O'Neal's counterattacking paid off for three goals in eight minutes to suddenly take control of the match in the second half.
In the 53rd minute, J.R. Moore passed a through ball to Rick Catania who blasted a shot past the goalkeeper.
Four minutes later, Catania sent a ball to Brian Subin, who used his strength and speed to win the ball and put it in the net to give the Falcons the lead. Four more minutes later, Subin scored a similar goal off an assist by Moore.
From a Falcon foul just outside the penalty box, Lazaro scored from the free kick making O'Neal's lead 3-2 in the 72nd minute.
O'Neal hung on against multiple Fayetteville Academy attacks in the last eight minutes. The Falcons cleared the ball, possessed the ball when they could and tried to slow the game down.
The Falcons will likely take their nine-match winning streak into the NCISAA 2A State Tournament. The field will be announced later this week and the first round of the 12-team tournament is set for Saturday.