Hough soccer focused on SW Guilford, playoff success

Hough soccer focused on SW Guilford, playoff success

Boys Soccer

Hough soccer focused on SW Guilford, playoff success

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CORNELIUS, N.C. — Following its second-straight undefeated season in conference play, Hough men’s soccer is locked into playoff mode. The Huskies are a No. 4 seed for the second consecutive season, and are preparing to host Soutwest Guilford in a rematch of last season’s state quarterfinals. The Huskies got the best of the Cowboys last year, winning the game 2-1 in overtime.

I stopped by Hough’s practice Friday afternoon and caught up with coach David Smith and the seniors on his 2014 club. While there, I discussed with the players what it feels like being at this point again, and if the experience in last season’s playoffs will prove to be advantageous for the Huskies.

After defeating Mecka rival A L Brown in the first round of the playoffs, CJ Bradley spoke about how familiarity with the Wonders led to Hough’s 4-0 win on Wednesday.

“It helped us a little bit, they changed up their defense. They moved a guy way back, like a super position, and that kind of threw us off a little, but after about 15 minutes we were fine”

When speaking on the undefeated record, Noah King reiterated that this group of seniors wanted to rack up the school’s second-straight unbeaten conference season.

“It was a huge goal for us to go undefeated. We usually perform well, and we definitely wanted to keep the streak going with another conference championship.”

Andrew Sutherland echoed Bradley and King when speaking about expectations on the pitch.

“I think Noah [King] and CJ [Bradley] summed it up best. If we play our hardest and play to our potential, we have a good shot at beating anyone.”

The Huskies are a senior-laden team, with 12 players on the roster playing out their final season at Hough. Michael Dmytruk feels having experience in the playoffs will bode well for Hough against Southwest Guilford.

“It lets you know what to expect since we’ve already been pretty far the last two years, and it helps to take a little bit of the pressure off.”

A similar vibe was expressed by Michael Dunn when discussing the Huskies’ ability to run the table in conference play this season.

“I think it was a big deal that we won conference. It says a lot about our mentality, that if we come out strong and start the playoffs strong, I feel like it will carry through to the end.”

Goalkeeper Brice Deeringer played a big role in Hough’s victory over A L Brown in the first round. Deeringer and the team know the work needed to get far in the playoffs, and feels like the Huskies are on the right track this season.

“We had a tough season this season, and last year as well. We just keep working hard and try to get as far as we can each season.”

As Hough preps for its second round matchup at home, Blake Marin shared the importance of staying tough mentally in order to avoid being upset.

“I think it’s going to take a lot of focus from everyone on the team. If we come out a little too nervous and aren’t executing, we will get upset by a team that we really feel we should beat. But I definitely think we have enough talent on this team to go far.”

Perhaps more important for the Huskies is the ability to stay at home through at least the first three rounds of the playoffs if they advance through the second round.

Zac Gallo, Ben McGonnell, and Brayden Twilley all feel that may be the biggest factor in advancing through the playoffs.

“I definitely think having to travel will affect them, and you want to defend your home turf and play well for the home crowd,” said Gallo. McGonnell feels the same telling WCNC “Playing in front of your fans and friends, everyone out here creates the atmosphere, and you play better.” Twilley kept the home-field advantage notion rolling, saying “We’re looking forward to playing at home, simply because we’ll have our fans behind us with a great atmosphere. We always focus on just one game at a time, but it is a huge help playing here at home.”

As Hough faces the possibility that Saturday’s game could be their last, Doug Rodricguez doesn’t want to look back on this season and feel disappointment.

“I wasn’t here last year, but I still feel like this season will be remembered for how we look at it. If we feel like we did enough to get as far as we wanted to.”

When a lot of younger players may be looking ahead to what the season could be, Smith’s experienced Huskies aren’t allowing their focus to leave their next opponent. Confidence, continuity, and charisma will help carry the Huskies in the playoffs. After making it to the state semifinals last year, Hough will be a tough out for anyone who lines up across from the Huskies.

The Huskies host Southwest Guilford Saturday at 6:30 pm at Hough High School.

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