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Is Wake Forest a soccer town?

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The growing town of Wake Forest used to be known as a suburb of Raleigh. Now it’s forming its own identity through high school athletics, especially soccer in recent years.

Sure, Wake Forest High School is the three-time defending 4AA state champion in football. But no other school in the local area has come even close to what the Cougars have achieved.

Soccer is all about diversity. It’s played in almost every single country in the world. When you bring that down to a smaller scale, all three high schools with Wake Forest listed on their address have won a soccer state championship within the past year.

On Nov. 23, Wake Forest’s boys soccer team won their first 4A state championship and their first state title since winning it back as a 3A high school in 1996.

Later that same day, Franklin Academy’s boys squad won their second state title in school history. Right off the bat, you have two state champions down the street from each other in the same town.

Go back to earlier this spring when Heritage’s girls team won their first 4A state championship by beating Pinecrest in a penalty shootout May 25. Later that day, Franklin Academy’s girls team made it to the 1A state championship, but were beaten by Union Academy 2-1 in overtime.

So in 2019, the town of Wake Forest produced three state champions and four regional champions. That’s pretty impressive.

It should also go to note that Franklin Academy’s boys team won their first state title back in 2015. The girls team went on to win their first state title in spring 2017 by beating the Community School of Davidson in a penalty shootout.

Since the fall of 2015, Franklin Academy, Wake Forest and Heritage have combined for nine regional championships and five state titles. It’s hard to argue that any other town in North Carolina has had that kind of success in one sport from multiple schools.

So where does all of this talent come from? Why is Wake Forest producing top quality soccer?

Look no further than our local soccer clubs who are training all of our young athletes. Within a 15-20-minute drive from Wake Forest, you have Capital Area League Soccer, which plays at WRAL Soccer Park (nine miles from Wake Forest).

Then you have the North Carolina Football Club (NCFC), which has an academy that trains local athletes. They are based out of the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, where Wake Forest and Franklin Academy won their state championships not too long ago.

Up north in Franklin County, there’s Youngsville Area Kids Soccer (YAKS). That league has produced plenty of top talent and competitive players.

It all starts from the ground up. Wake Forest has soccer parks all over the area that has given young kids a chance to grow as athletes and compete against some top level talent. The town also does a great job of hosting soccer camps through the parks and recreation department and Heritage High School hosts their Husky sports camps every year.

Through all of that, Wake Forest has shaped their identity as a soccer town that stands above the rest. You can’t argue the facts. With five state championships from three different schools in the same town within the past five years, the future of soccer looks bright for Wake Forest.

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

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