With the regular season now complete, the teams in the county are ready for playoff action. Clinton, Lakewood, Midway, Hobbton, and Union all are in the playoffs, which is a testament to how good soccer has been in Sampson County this year.
All of the following games are set for Nov. 4, which is Wednesday.
Clinton enters the playoffs as one of the favorites to run the table in the Eastern Regional. They are the third overall seed in the East, and will not play an unfamiliar team in round one, as the Midway Raiders, the 30 seed, are set to make the short trip to Clinton.
Clinton won both of the regular season match-ups, but the last one was a close 1-0 decision. The Raiders have talent and are well-coached, but face a very steep task in their opening round. This game is set to start at 7 p.m.
As for the Lakewood Leopards, they are set to travel to Raleigh Charter. The Leopards are the 24 seed in the region, and Raleigh Charter is the number 9 seed. This Lakewood team has had a Jekyll and Hyde type of season. They finished fourth in the conference, which is their best finish ever. They have had some outings where they looked unbeatable, and some where they looked like a completely different team. Depending on which Leopard team shows up on Wednesday, they could pull the upset. This game is set to get underway at 7 p.m.
Union is set to host Gates County on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Union is the 15 seed, and Gates County is the 18. With a win, Union could potentially take on back-to-back defending state champion, Wallace, in the second round.
Union upset Wallace earlier this season, so if they take care of business on Wednesday, don’t be surprised if they pull a second round upset. Union is a very talented team who is under-seeded and on the wrong end of the benefits and disadvantages of a split conference.
Hobbton has played good soccer down the stretch, and because of it, they boosted their overall seed up to 17 in the region. They are set to travel to Research Triangle High School on Wednesday at 6 p.m. to take on the 16 seed, in a game that features two evenly-matched squads. Hobbton is poised to get the win and advance to the second round as well.
The regular season was a successful one for all county soccer teams. They now are each hope to make deep playoff runs, and it begins in round one on Wednesday.