CARY -- Sophomore midfielder Chris Tziatzos knocked in the winning goal in the second overtime to lift Jacksonville to a dramatic 2-1 victory over Hickory in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state 3-A men's soccer championship at Dail Soccer Field at North Carolina State University on Saturday night.
Tziatzos, who came on as a sub in the second half, buried the game winner into the left side of the net with just 3:18 remaining in the second 10-minute overtime after Hickory failed to clear the ball out of its own end. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the final. Jacksonville played the final 35 minutes of regulation and all the extra time a man down.
Jacksonville had gotten the game-tying goal with just 2:40 left to play in regulation when Cormick Brennan found the back of the net after a wild scramble for the ball in front of the Hickory goal to knot the game at 1-1.
The Red Tornadoes grabbed a 1-0 lead early in the second half on a penalty kick by senior midfielder Conner Hartman after Jacksonville was called for a handball in the box. Hickory also had a couple of great scoring chances in the final 10 minutes but failed to convert before the Cardinals got the equalizer.
For most of the game, Hickory effectively contained the explosive Cardinal attack which had outscored its opposition 36-4 in its previous five playoff games. Hickory had a total of 11 shots, four on goal, while the Cards attempted 17 total shots with five of those on goal. The Tornadoes held an 11-8 edge in corner kicks.
Both teams were in the championship match for the fourth time, and each carried a 1-2 championship record into this final. Jacksonville finished the year with a 26-1 mark and won its final 24 in a row, with the only loss to 4-A state runner-up Charlotte Myers Park. Hickory had an 18-match winning streak snapped and the Red Tornadoes wound up 27-2.