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Originally published: 2013-09-21 13:54:51
Last modified: 2013-09-21 13:56:09

Pioneers take on St. Stephens Monday

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

Watauga's boys' soccer team, ranked No. 4 in the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association, begins the toughest stretch of its season Monday at St. Stephens in the first of three critical Northwestern Conference showdowns.
The Pioneers (11-0-0, 4-0-0) face St. Stephens (7-3-2, 2-1-1 NWC) looking to not only stay unbeaten, but to build on a possible NWC championship. Watauga is in a tie for first place with Fred T. Foard (8-3-1, 4-0-0) and is a game in front of Freedom (8-1-1, 3-1-0) in the NWC race.
Watauga can do something about putting pressure on all three teams. The Pioneers host Foard on Wednesday and play at Freedom on Sept. 30.
Watauga coach Woody McKay said he's more concerned with playing St. Stephens instead of Foard despite the fact Foard beat St. Stephens 5-2 on Sept. 18. St. Stephens also settled for a 2-2 tie with Hickory, while Watauga beat Hickory 4-1 on Sept. 18.
So, why does St. Stephens cause more anxiety for McKay than the other teams?
"Because they're the one team we didn't beat last year and they lost only two seniors from that team," McKay said. "I'm still more worried about them than playing Foard at home. We beat Foard twice last year and we are on our home turf."
Once the Pioneers play at Freedom, they'll complete the first circuit of the NWC schedule. Watauga will host five of its final seven games of the season, including St. Stephens and Freedom.
But facing St. Stephens comes first. McKay remembers the Indians being a team that moves well and are tough to guard.
"They have a very good attacking movement," McKay said. "They have three guys in the front and four in the back and they're just hard to mark. They're a touch matchup for everybody."