Doyle tops in soccer; Farmer, Tegean co-Coaches of Year
Darren Doyle showed flashes of brilliance in each of the past two seasons for Kerr-Vance. The Spartan attacker, by way of Ireland, took his game to a higher level in 2012, finishing his senior season with a stranglehold on The Dispatch All-Area Player of the Year honors.
Doyle and the senior-laden Spartans, led by coach Tommy Farmer, had a remarkable season, bowing out in the NCISAA 2-A semifinals with an overall mark of 22-2-1. KVA finished unbeaten (12-0) in 2-A Eastern Plains Independent Conference play and placed six players on this year’s all-area first team.
Farmer, who earned top EPIC coaching honors, and Northern Vance coach Razvan Tegean, who did the same in the NCHSAA 3-A Carolina Conference, are All-Area co-Coaches of the Year.
KVA played a competitive non-conference schedule that included a Greenfield Cup title in Wilson and a 2-1 victory over Carolina Friends, then 2-A’s top-ranked team. Carolina Friends avenged the loss by eliminating the Spartans in the state semifinals. KVA’s only other loss came to Caldwell Academy, also a 2-A state semifinalist.
Tegean guided the Vikings to their first state playoff appearance since 2007. Northern made strides as the season went on, playing competitive matches with conference powers Cardinal Gibbons and Chapel Hill.
The Vikes appeared to be outmatched in their first-round state playoff match, but stayed close with a good Eastern Alamance team in a 3-1 loss.
Boasting a repertoire of blazing pace, cracking (on-target) shots on goal and an unmatched ability to distribute, Doyle finished the season with 22 goals and 26 assists. The EPIC Player of the Year and all-state selection also proved to be especially dangerous on set pieces, whether going for goal or whipping in passes for the likes of Brandon Dickerson, also an all-state and all-area selection.
“He’s strong, his technique is so good,” Farmer said of a Doyle free kick after a regular season win over Carolina Friends. “He can let it go just like that. He doesn’t need to take two steps and then hit it. One step, boom.”
Dickerson led the Spartans in scoring with 30 goals and added seven assists. The senior’s height made him the perfect aerial threat in front of the net and KVA’s most potent finisher.
Midfielder George Hoyle played an integral role in KVA’s offense, as did Dallas Smith, often from his defensive stopper position. Hoyle finished with 13 goals and six assists and Smith had 12 goals and six assists. Both were all-conference selections.
Wyatt Evans, another all-conference honoree for KVA, provided a steady presence on the back line at sweeper while Jake Ruggles manned the net. Ruggles had 115 saves on the season with eight shutouts and a 1.16 goals against average.
Northern’s Barrett Johnson was one of two Carolina Conference goalkeepers selected as first team. He had 210 saves on the season.
Johnson is joined on the all-area first team by fellow Vikings Raymond West and Ethan Byrom. West and Byrom both had 12 goals on the season. West had eight assists and Byrom had seven.
Byrom was the team leader for Northern, playing most of the season at sweeper, but often roaming forward to participate in the attack.
“There are probably not enough words to use for him,” Tegean said the senior Byrom after the playoff loss. “As a person, student, athlete, soccer player — everything. He’s just a tough person to be replaced.”
Continuing the trend of versatile defenders, Michael Lopez gave Southern a consistent, reliable presence at sweeper. Lopez was one of the more physical players in the area — where there was action, there too was Lopez.
Junior Jamie Gomez of J.F. Webb rounds out the first team. Small in stature, the first team all-conference selection was calm and collected at the top of the Warriors’ attack, tallying seven goals and five assists on the season.
A rebuilding Webb team finished fourth in the conference standings, one spot behind Northern, before being eliminated in the first round of the state playoffs.
All-Area First Team
Darren Doyle (striker, Kerr-Vance)
Brandon Dickerson (striker, Kerr-Vance)
Jake Ruggles (goalkeeper, Kerr-Vance)
Wyatt Evans (defender, Kerr-Vance)
Dallas Smith (defender, Kerr-Vance)
George Hoyle (midfielder, Kerr-Vance)
Ethan Byrom (defender, Northern Vance)
Raymond West (striker, Northern Vance)
Barrett Johnson (goalkeeper, Northern Vance)
Michael Lopez (defender, Southern Vance)
Jamie Gomez (striker, J.F. Webb)
All-Area Second Team
Juan Lopez (Kerr-Vance)
Jaleel Seward (Northern Vance)
Joseph Sharpe (Northern Vance)
Zach Espino (J.F. Webb)
William Gillespie (J.F. Webb)
Luis Donaldo (J.F. Webb)
Tim Smith (J.F. Webb)
Lorenzo Ortiz (Southern Vance)
Dontravious Harrison (Warren County)
Ben Paul (Crossroads Christian)
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