Kendall brothers, Owen soccer break through for first state championship

Zach Crain
Special to the Citizen Times

BROWNS SUMMIT — After 110 minutes of soccer, four overtimes and nine penalty kicks, Owen senior midfielder Harrison Kendall backed away from the penalty spot. 

Two Clinton misses meant all he needed to do was convert one last shot to send the Warhorses trotting back down I-40 as NCHSAA 2-A state champions.  

“I was very confident, I gave the keeper a little smirk and breathed in one time,” he said. 

Then, in his final moment as a Warhorse, he took four strides and struck the ball. 

For the first time in school history, Owen were state champions. 

A large crowd gathered on the Warhorses' side — banging drums and cowbells all night — erupted as the ball whipped into the back of the net. Owen coach Trei Morrison teared up as each player's name was called to accept their medal. 

“I’m not usually at a loss for words, but it just means everything,” Morrison said. “Just everybody stepping up for us. And it just means so much more because there’s a community that you’re playing for. It just means everything.”

Despite maintaining the majority of possession, Owen struggled to put any threatening shots on goal in the first half, leaving the door open for Clinton’s Daniel Adasiak to score for a 1-0 halftime lead. 

The Warhorses spent the majority of the next 40 minutes in the attacking third, but had no goals to show for it until Harrison’s brother, sophomore Davis Kendall, knocked in his 50th goal of the season with three minutes remaining in regulation. 

STATE SEMIFINALS:Owen soccer reaches first state championship with dramatic 5-4 golden-goal win

OWEN SOCCER GROWS:With new coach, new tactics and newfound humility, Owen boys soccer advances in NCHSAA

SUPER SOPHOMORE:Goal-scoring machine Davis Kendall powering Owen soccer's regional final run

Twenty minutes of scoreless overtime led to penalties, during which the Kendall brothers both converted their attempts. 

“I was just so happy for (Harrison), this is his last year,” Davis said. “I told Coach that he should go last because it’s his last year and I know he can do it.”

Before heading to Greensboro on Friday, Morrison made sure to tell Harrison one thing: 

“I told him before we got on the bus that he was going to do big things tonight."

Morrison said that even with Davis’ elite numbers this season – he finished with the 50 goals and 10 assists – Harrison’s impact on the team was just as integral. 

“He does everything,” he said. “He connects the front to the back, he runs the show for us, he drives the car.”

After the match, Davis carried the most valuable player trophy by his side and made sure to note the impact that Harrison and his teammates had on his individual campaign. 

“It’s so much joy,” Davis said. “I’m so thankful that I’ve got people around here. If it wasn’t without them I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t have the success that I do.”

The Owen boys soccer team defeated Clinton in penalty kicks to win its first NCHSAA state title on Friday night in Greensboro. The teams played to a 1-1 tie during regulation and overtime.

Moving forward, Owen is primed for continued success and more deep playoff runs. Four of the Warhorses' top-five scorers are underclassmen, and Davis will be one of North Carolina’s best players for the final two years of his high school career. 

“If you asked the boys right now, they’d probably say, ‘We’re going to enjoy it tonight, and then we’re going to start working for next year,’” Morrison said. 

Following Friday’s victory, Morrison referenced past “giants” that helped lay the foundation for Owen’s success. After winning WNC's first boys soccer championship since Roberson in 2013, Davis said he’s aiming to earn more deep playoff runs. And as Harrison prepared for his last bus ride back to Black Mountain with his brother and the Warhorses, he said the meaning of this state championship was “indescribable.”

But all credited past foundations for Owen’s Friday’s triumph. 

“I can’t describe it,” Harrison said. “It’s the best team in Owen history.”