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Originally published: 2013-09-16 22:55:35
Last modified: 2013-09-16 22:56:19

WHS boys' soccer team dumps Hickory 4-1

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

It doesn't matter what Hickory's record is. It's always a big deal to beat the Red Tornadoes in boys' soccer.

Watauga became the only team in North Carolina to beat Northwestern Conference power Hickory at least once in the past two years Monday by beating the Red Tornadoes 4-1 at Jack Groce Stadium. Watauga has beaten Hickory in two of the last three games the teams played each other after taking a 3-1 win at Jack Groce Stadium in 2012.

The Pioneers (10-0-0, 3-0-0), ranked No. 4 in 4-A by the North Carolina State Coaches Association, took a 2-1 halftime lead and never looked back to the Red Tornadoes, who slipped to 3-4-2 overall, 0-2-1 in the NWC.

The Pioneers were happy with the win, but also ready to take on South Caldwell on Wednesday. They also play St. Stephens, which is favored to win the NWC, on Sept. 23.

"I think they don't celebrate enough," Pioneers coach Woody McKay said. "I mean, we're 10-0, we just beat Hickory on our home field with everybody playing, and we were better than them. As many seniors they may have lost, they still played in the state championship game last year."

Watauga got two goals from Logan Raichle, another from Cam Linville and a fourth from Chase Palm. It was the first time the Pioneers had scored more than two goals since a 5-1 victory over Wilkes Central on Aug. 28.

The Pioneers have not scored more than two goals in their last four games until Monday night.

Raichle scored the go-ahead goal with 4:11 left in the first half after dribbling up the right side and slipping the ball past Hickory goalkeeper Will Arditti. The goal gave the Pioneers a 2-1 lead, which they took into halftime.

Raichle added his second goal seven minutes into the second half. Arditti stopped the first shot taken at him close to the goal, but did not get control of the ball.

It bounced back to Raichle, who put the shot away to give the Pioneers a 3-1 lead. Raichle nearly had a third goal, but his direct kick went just inches over the crossbar.

Chase Palm closed out the Pioneers' scoring with a goal with 31:09 left in the game. Cam Linville opened the Pioneers' scoring with a first-half goal that gave Watauga a 1-0 lead. Hunter Martin had the assist.

Defensively, the Pioneers held their ninth opponent in 10 games to one goal or fewer. Watauga has not given up two goals since they beat West Caldwell 4-2 on Aug. 26.

Ben Pleasant scored Hickory's goal with 6:46 left in the first half, which tied the game 1-1.