CONCORD – The best season in Concord boys soccer history just keeps getting better.
On Saturday, the Spiders got two goals from sophomore Oliver Coreas, timely and fortuitous defensive play and a different type of MVP, as they prevailed 2-0 over visiting Watauga in the 3A state quarterfinals.
Having already advanced deeper in the playoffs than any previous Concord team, the Spiders (25-1-2), who are the West Region’s second seed, will play at top-seeded Charlotte Catholic in the state semifinals on Tuesday.
“We wanted to play Watauga all year,” said winning coach Todd Tinsley. “And we got Watauga, and I think they were the best team we’ve played all year by far. By far. They gave us the most trouble.
“It feels good. I’m happy. My students say I don’t smile very much. I’m smiling tonight.”
The Spiders avenged last year’s second-round state playoff loss to the Pioneers. As a result, Concord extended its current win streak to 16 games, while Watauga’s string of straight victories ended at 12.
In last year’s playoff matchup, Concord held a 2-0 second half lead but Watauga used four overtimes to win 3-2. So even when the Spiders added a second goal with six minutes, 52 seconds left in Saturday’s game, they were far from feeling secure.
That was partly due to how dominant Watauga (18-6-1) was in the second half. After Concord controlled the momentum in the first half, the Pioneers dictated play over the final 40 minutes, outshooting the Spiders, 8-2.
Concord’s four defenders – seniors Celso Quiterio, Christian Kushmal and Michael Cicci, and junior Javier Ortiz – cleared numerous shots away from goalkeeper Emmanuel Konneh. Tinsley especially noted Cicci’s defense, but the Spiders were even more grateful for their other MVPs: Most Valuable Posts.
At least four Watauga shots in the second half hit either a post or the crossbar of the Concord goal. Three of those shots were taken by junior Owen Combs, the Pioneers’ second-leading scorer.
The first of Combs’ misfortunate shots was a rocket that bounced off the left post in the 52nd minute. About 10 minutes later, Combs’ header from a few yards in front of the goal hit the crossbar and dropped inches in front of the goal line. Several Watauga players reacted as if it were a goal.
“We started playing Watauga soccer in the second half,” said Pioneers coach Josh Honeycutt. “We were able to do what we do very well, and that’s possess the ball, move the ball around, build and attack, and get shots on frame. Unfortunately, we actually hit the frame this time. Typically we can finish and put those away.”
Coreas gave Concord a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute with the help of a Steven Lozano assist. Coreas shot it past goalkeeper Clement Heistand, who slipped as he tried to redirect his positioning.
Coreas’ second goal came on the last of Concord’s two-second half shots. Carlos Alvarez lifted a crossing pass toward the goal after he outraced a Watauga player to a ball deep in the right corner. Coreas controlled the loose ball and outsmarted a couple defenders before knocking it in.
Speaking through a student interpreter, Coreas said, “I’m very excited and happy that I helped my team win.”
Concord senior captain Carson Trott, who’s led the Spiders in scoring throughout the postseason, lauded Coreas’ performance.
“He’s been a big player for us all year,” said Trott. “He has stepped up in big moments.”
But Watauga didn’t tank. In the 75th minute, the Pioneers fired a couple of close-range shots. One was powerfully kicked away by Cicci, the other was denied by Konneh. A shot in the 78th minute rolled up Konneh’s body and hit off the crossbar. Another save by the Spiders’ MVP(ost).
“It’s been a wonderful year, but every game it seems to be someone different,” said Tinsley. “It was wonderful to see Oliver and Cicci have their nights tonight. They’re both players that have done great things for us all year. Tonight, they really came through for us.”
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Concord: Oliver Coreas 2