The Hickory soccer team capped what was amazing regular season on Wednesday during “Senior Night,” winning 1-0 against Fred T. Foard.
It was the 16th straight win for the Red Tornadoes, who finish their conference schedule undefeated at 12-0.
“They just continue to work hard and are receptive to what we are trying to do and accomplish,” said Hickory coach Brian Jillings of his team. “When you keep working hard like, good things are going to happen. We have a good combination of defenders, hard-working midfielders and guys who work magic with the ball.”
Foard (14-9-1, 7-5-0) put on a strong defensive performance in the first half, holding Hickory to no goals and three shots. The game was tied 0-0 at the half.
A key swing in the game took place 10 minutes through the second half.
After a Khong Lo penalty kick sailed wide right for Foard, Hickory attacked a dazed Tigers squad.
“Up until the point of the penalty, it seemed like we were in control of the match and dominated possession,” said Foard coach Scottie Goforth. “It was just a emotional momentum swing on the missed penalty.”
Moments later, Hickory midfielder Carlos Sevilla found forward Chris Dixon for a goal at the 30:24 mark.
“They did deflate a little bit. I think the penalty kick was kind was an eye-opener,” Jillings said. “It woke us up a little bit. We started running at them with the ball, looked to get in behind them and forced their keeper to make some nice saves.”
Despite a number of tries, including three corner kicks in the final five minutes, Foard failed to score on a stout Hickory defense.
Both teams now await their playoff fate when the brackets are announced.
“We move forward and headed to playoffs,” Goforth said. “My team is prepared. We’ve played the best. We’ve played Hickory, Ashebrook and Asheville — all No. 1 seeds in our part of the bracket. We had close results with all of them. I don’t feel as if the team has to walk on the field scared of anyone.”