Hickory Heading To State Final

Hickory soccer coach Brian Jillings had a message to his team Wednesday night before taking the field at home against Charlotte Catholic in the 3-A West region final. He wanted his team to make it memorable.

“Now we have to do it all over again,” he said.

The Red Tornadoes scored two goals in the first half and hung on the rest of the match to defeat Charlotte Catholic 2-1. Hickory plays at 1 p.m. Saturday at N.C. State against the winner of the 3-A East final between Jacksonville and Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons.

This is the Red Tornadoes’ first trip to the state championship since 2001.

The Red Tornadoes jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the state’s top-ranked 3-A team. Robert Liljeberg flicked the ball with his right foot to the left side of the goal — giving Hickory a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute — on an assist from Drew Hilton. Michael Delong scored an insurance goal 12 minutes later on a shot from the right side of the field, and Carlos Sevilla got the assist on Hickory’s second goal of the night.

Kyle Luckie scored the Cougars’ lone goal in the match in the 34th minute on a header set up by a 30-yard pass from Adam Zeitouni.