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New Hanover High boys soccer team prepares for state championship game

Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 5:44 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The New Hanover High School boys soccer team is set to play in the 4A state championship game on Saturday against Hough. As the team gets ready to travel to Cary for the game, redemption is top of mind.

“Losing in the final last year in overtime, that put a chip on a lot of our shoulders,” said senior center back Holt Rogers.

The Wildcats came up short in the spring season, falling to Weddington in the 4A championship game. This year’s stable of seniors says they are using last season’s loss as a motivation to come away with a different result this time around.

“We just have that chip on our shoulder from last year, not winning,” said senior striker Aidan Payne. “I think we have even more motivation and drive to win and hopefully we can show that [on] Saturday.”

Coach TJ Rennie says that even though he is focused on making sure his players are healthy and ready to play on Saturday, last year’s final loss is one that still sits with him, despite the team’s 26-0-1 record this season.

“That loss to Weddington really, really hurt,” Rennie said. “I don’t know if any of us have fully gotten past that yet, but obviously Saturday is the best opportunity to do that.”

Rennie said this year’s team has a renewed focus with Payne leading the way. Payne’s 52 goals this season are a school record.

“This is where we wanted to be,” Payne said. “We wanted to be in the state final, have a chance to win it again, and it would just mean so much to finally get that.”

Payne’s fellow seniors know the emotions that come with playing in a state championship game, and say they’re preparing for a different result on Saturday.

“I want to be confident, but don’t want to be too confident like last year,” said Rogers.

New Hanover will play Hough on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at Koka Booth Field at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary. You can click here to find information on how to watch the game.

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