The West Lincoln Rebels varsity soccer team has found itself in unfamiliar territory.
The Rebels are making their first trip to the soccer playoffs in school history after a third-place finish in the 2A standings in the 1A/2A split Southern Piedmont Conference.
The Rebels won three of their last six games, and took a 1-0 victory over the North Lincoln Knights in the final game of the regular season on Wednesday. The Knights earned a playoff bid to the 2011 games with a half-game lead over the Rebels at the end of the season.
“The last couple of games we’ve been playing good defensively,” West Lincoln head coach Tom Riley said. “To get a win going into the playoffs will push the confidence of the players.”
West Lincoln finished the regular season with a 7-8-1 overall record. They defeated East Lincoln twice, taking wins over their cross-county rival for the first time in school history. They took two wins over Cherryville and defeated Burns and Challenger in nonconference play.
The team will face South Iredell, the No. 1 seed in the Catawba Valley Athletic Conference, in the first round. South Iredell has won 15 games in a row.
“It’s a tough draw but that’s what the playoffs are about,” Riley said. “The best teams make it. If you want to go deep in the playoffs you’re going to face a team like South Iredell sooner or later. We want to try to make some noise when we get there. You always have to bring your best game in the playoffs.”
Riley, who took over as head coach of the Rebels in 2008, said the team’s playoff bid was a momentous occasion both for the school and the West Lincoln community.
“It’s huge for our school, to be able to represent it in the playoffs,” he said. “There were people who didn’t know we had a soccer team when I started. Making the playoffs is big for the guys. All the hard work they’ve done has paid off.”