Three of the last four Class 4A state title games have featured Myers Park, but just as was the case last year when the Mustangs faced Jordan, they enter this weekend's final as the high-scoring underdog.
Myers Park has averaged more than four goals per game this year, thanks to Erick Suarez (35 goals, 15 assists) and Hussein Ali (25 goals, seven assists), and after beating Roberson 1-0 on Wednesday, has outscored its last seven opponents by a count of 39-5. The five goals surrendered is just as impressive as the 39 when you consider the Mustangs graduated its entire defense from last year's state runner-up squad.
Still, the push to win their first title since 2008 will be far from easy, as Green Hope stands in the way. The Falcons are the state's top-ranked and nation's seventh-best squad in the POWERADE FAB 50 after downing defending champ Jordan earlier this season, rallying for a 4-3 win against Fuquay-Varina in the quarterfinals and downing Pinecrest 4-0 behind Will Moore's two goals in the semis.
Green Hope has been downright impressive this year, outscoring opponents 111-24 while riding the motivation of winning the state title in coach Andrew Chadwick's final season. Along with Moore, the Falcons possess a solid playmaker in Ryan Thompson (12 goals, 17 assists) and Drew Altman (team-high 17 goals). Myers Park's defense will certainly be tested, but so will Green Hope's, as the Mustangs known for racking up shots on goal until they find the back of the net.
In Class 3A action, defending state champ Cardinal Gibbons is also headed back to the final for a bout with Charlotte Catholic. Between the Crusaders' title last year and the Cougars four crowns in the last decade, tradition is rich between these two. The Cougars boast a scoring machine in Roland Minogue, but the Crusaders have been lighting up the scoreboard all season in hopes of a repeat title.
State championship matches for all four classes will take place this Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.