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2019: The year of high school soccer

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As we have entered 2020, let’s look back at this past year, which can be summed up in one sport: soccer.

In 2019, the town of Wake Forest saw three state champions and four regional champions between boys and girls soccer. It started with Heritage’s girls team this past spring.

The Lady Huskies defeated Pinecrest in a penalty shootout May 25 to win their first 4A state championship in school history. Heritage finished the season with an unprecedented 20-3 overall record under head coach Scott Sloan.

This was the first time an athletic program from Heritage won a tournament-based state title. The Huskies have produced state champions in cheerleading and an individual champion in Anthony Brito in wrestling.

Even though Franklin Academy’s team lost to Union Academy 2-1 in overtime that same day, it was still a big accomplishment as 1A eastern regional champs. The Lady Patriots had a fantastic season, going 23-1, with their only loss coming in the state championship match.

Fast forward to this past fall. Both Wake Forest and Franklin Academy’s boys soccer teams made it to their respective championship games.

On Nov. 23, Wake Forest won their first 4A state championship and their first state title since winning it back as a 3A high school in 1996. The Cougars finished the season with 21 wins, a program record. Their final overall record was 21-1-2 under head coach Rick Pittarelli.

Then later that same day, Franklin Academy beat Christ the King 3-2 to win their second state championship in program history. The Patriots finished 25-2 overall under first-year head coach Justin Bailey.

We saw three soccer teams win a state championship in 2019. That might never happen again — but who knows what 2020 holds?

In other sports stories from 2019, we saw Franklin Academy’s Aaron Rovnak win first place in the 1A state championship boys cross country meet at Kernersville on Nov. 9, becoming the first Patriot to do so in the history of the boys program.

The junior ran a 16:05.97, beating second-place Drew Zink of Lincoln Charter by 25 seconds. He was one of three runners to finish the championship race in under 17 minutes.

As a team, Franklin Academy’s boys team finished sixth overall with 184 points. The Patriots finished behind Pamlico County (182 points) and ahead of Lejeune (198 points).

Franklin Academy’s girls team broke their streak of three consecutive 1A state championships with an eighth-place finish at the state meet. The Lady Patriots tied with Highland Tech with 226 points, but broke the tie with average run time. Franklin Academy finished behind Pine Lake Preparatory, which scored 216 points. Franklin Academy’s conference rival Research Triangle won the 1A state championship with 67 points.

Speaking of three-time state championship streaks coming to an end, Wake Forest’s football team was knocked out of the playoffs for the first time since 2015 after a 21-10 loss to Leesville Road at home in the 4AA east regional championship game Dec. 6. The Cougars finished the season 12-2 overall.

Rolesville’s football squad finished its season 10-3 overall, which is the most wins in a single season in its program history. The Rams ended their year with a 26-14 loss at Wake Forest in the second round of the 4AA state playoffs Nov. 20.

For basketball, Wakefield was the top dog in both boys and girls hoops this past year. The boys squad went 24-5 overall with a NAC 6 conference championship. The Wolverines were beaten by South Central 79-45 in the fourth round of the 4A state playoffs March 5.

The girls squad went 27-2 overall with a NAC 6 conference title and the No. 1 overall seed in the 4A state playoffs. The Lady Wolverines were defeated by Cary 63-44 in the fourth round of the state playoffs.

What do you think was the biggest sports moment of 2019? Send me an email to let me know and I’ll mention it in my next column.

Marty Simpkins is the sports editor of The Wake Weekly. He can be reached at 919-424-1779 or