GREENSBORO — There was a complete Triangle feel as the East team defeated the West, 2-1, in the N.C. Coaches Association boys’ soccer all-star game on July 23.
Nine starters hailed from either Wake, Johnston, Durham or Franklin County.
The most local of the starters was Corinth Holders’ Melecio Rubio-Villagran, the first player in his school’s history to suit up for a NCCA all-star game.
“I feel really proud to play in these games,” said Rubio-Villagran, a Wendell resident. “I think I played very well. I left everything on the field.”
Also starting for the East were Green Hope teammates Tyler Hawley and Josh Kennedy, Sanderson’s Fred Woodward and Cardinal Gibbons’ Kye Rhode. Rhode had a volley go off the post in the first half.
Franklinton’s Jared Miller didn’t play in a state championship game or get recruited to a Division I school, but the 5-foot-9, 220-pound goalkeeper saved the East’s 10th win in the series with one big stop after another.
His efforts earned him the game’s MVP honors.
“Coming from a small little 2A school ... you kinda do come in with a chip on your shoulder. Not making all-state was crushing to me,” said Miller, who will play at Mount Olive next year.
“I’m not a typical goalkeeper. I’m a little shorter and a little bigger, but it shows that if you’re dedicated and you work and you work and you work, you can do anything.”
Miller played the first 20 minutes of the first half and the entire second half.
He was tested; Miller saved a penalty kick in the second half, followed by two other quick saves.
He also snuffed a breakaway attempt with seven minutes left to preserve the win.
“I love the pressure – that’s why I became a goalkeeper in the first place,” Miller said.
A goal by Jason Andrejchak (Concord Robinson) put the West up 1-0 in the 25th minute, but the East equalized when Sanderson’s Connor Francis and Heritage’s Gage Novaria worked a give-and-go in the box.
The nifty play between former Cap Eight 4A Conference foes ended with Novaria’s 39th-minute goal on Francis’ assist.
“I saw Gage coming out from right back and he did the nice little ‘Maradona’ move that he did, and it sort of opened him up. I saw the defender behind me pinch up to get him,” said Francis. “He played me, then right back to him, and he put it away.”
The East went up 2-1 after Owen Ryan of Durham School of the Arts gathered the ball off a corner scrum and fired in a shot.
“Usually I’m more of an assist man, but I got on the end of a pretty good cross by Josh Kennedy,” Ryan said.
“He jumped up really high and blocked the goalie’s view.”
The East leads the all-time boys’ series, 10-8-4.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps