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Prep Soccer Playoffs: Salisbury 2, Hibriten 0

Staff report
Salisbury’s soccer team has made it to the Western final before.
The Hornets were there in 1996, 1997 and 2001.
They lost each time ó to Charlotte Catholic twice and to Elkin.
“There not there this year,” Hornets coach Tom Sexton was quick to point out.
Salisbury is, however, after a resounding 2-0 road victory against Hibriten in Lenoir.
Catholic has moved up to the 3A classification. So Salisbury (17-4-1) will now travel to Shelby on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. match to decide who makes it to the Western N.C. final.
Maybe by then, the Hornets will have rested up from all the bumps and bruises suffered Saturday night against the Panthers.
“It was an extremely physical match,” Sexton said.
Playing in front of a large home crowd, Hibriten (20-6) was going for its third straight win over a Central Carolina Conference team. It had already defeated Lexington and East Davidson.
But playing the CCC’s No. 1 seed was a different story. The Panthers couldn’t penetrate the Salisbury defense.
Sexton gave most of the credit to goalkeeper Frankie Cardelle and the back line of Alex Hunter, Will Mason, Randy Almeida and Sam Garner.
Cardelle has spent most of the season stopping about four shots per game. In this win, shots were consistently peppered at him and the senior never flinched, stopping 21 Panther tries.
“Cardelle was insane,” Sexton exclaimed. “They had a big scorer (Jule Picton) that they kept going to and Will Mason and Daman Bowman shut him down.”
Meanwhile, Salisbury got goals from Dustin Presnell and Hunter Fisher.
It was certainly a gutsy performance from Presnell, who was suffering from a heel spur, but managed the match’s initial score.
“Somehow he went the whole game,” Sexton said.
Fisher’s goal came with five minutes left. He slid a shot past the goalkeeper, knocking the wind out of the Panthers.
“They were out of gas,” Sexton said. “They made no threat after that.”
Which is saying something. In Hibriten’s last 17 wins, it had scored 86 goals. But it failed to scratch against the stone wall Salisbury threw up.
“Our defense was incredible again,” Sexton said.

NOTES: The Hornets are 16-1-1 in their last 18 games. … Shelby gets the home game because of the NCHSAA’s conference seeding priority. … Sexton praised Oscar Bonilla, saying he played his best game of the season. Brother Kenny, a freshman, was also a standout.

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