By RYAN HERMAN
The state playoff selection committee didn’t do East Lincoln or Lincoln Charter any favors.
Their boys soccer teams open the state playoffs today having to travel to a conference opponent they’ve both lost to twice already.
Lincoln Charter (12-9) travels to Pine Lake Prep (10-6-2) for a 4 p.m. opening-round match today while East Lincoln (9-11-1) heads to Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference co-champion West Caldwell (17-3-1) at 7 p.m.
The Eagles, who finished fourth in the Southern Piedmont 1A Conference and are seeded ninth in the 16-team 1A West bracket, lost to the Mooresville-based school in a pair of overtime matches during the regular season.
The Pride finished third in the league.
“Both matches have been very intense. … The boys are confident they can play with Pine Lake, at this point it is all about getting over that hump in the final minutes,” said Eagles coach Dane Perry, whose team fell to Pine Lake by scores of 2-1 and 3-1.
Not only are the Eagles having to face a team they’ve faced twice already, but they’re in the state playoffs for the first time, Perry said.
With the excitement that surrounds an initial trip to the postseason, the opponent doesn’t matter all that much.
“We are excited about the opportunity to play in our first playoff match. The opponent doesn’t really matter much as this point. No matter who you play it is survive and advance,” Perry said. “Playing a conference opponent can be difficult, but it also makes the preparation a little easier as you know exactly what you are getting and how to set up you game plan.”
Like Lincoln Charter, the Mustangs dropped both matches to the Warriors, who finished the regular season tied atop the SD-7 with Newton-Conover.
East Lincoln lost 5-0 at home to West Caldwell, then 1-0 at West Caldwell on Oct. 15.
That match ended early and the Warriors were awarded the win by the NCHSAA after Mustangs coach Jason Dragoon was disqualified roughly 12 minutes in following receiving two yellow cards.
East Lincoln, which finished fifth in the league, is seeded 28th in the 32-team 2A West bracket. West Caldwell is seeded fifth.
The 1A playoffs are divided into four regions –– East, Mideast, West, Midwest –– while the other three are divided into East and West regions only.