Soccer playoff pairings: 16 Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln counties teams in NCHSAA field

By Richard Walker

Sixteen teams from Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln counties are in the N.C. High School Athletic Association boys soccer playoff field.

Games begin on Monday with first-round matchups.

In Class 3A, Cramer hosts Freedom, Forestview hosts High Point Central, South Point hosts St. Stephens, Ashbrook plays at North Iredell, East Lincoln hosts Smoky Mountain and North Lincoln visits Asheboro.

In Class 2A, Burns visits Shelby, East Gaston visits Hendersonville, Lincolnton hosts Wilkes Central and Lincoln Charter visits Robinson.

And in Class 1A, Highland Tech hosts Sugar Creek, Cherryville visits N.C. Leadership Academy, Bessemer City visits Mount Airy, Mountain Island Charter visits Winston-Salem Carver and Piedmont Community Charter hosts Bishop McGuinness.

Shelby is the most frequent local playoff participant as the Golden Lions are making their 32nd all-time appearance and have appeared every year since 2001.

Forestview has the longest playoff streak at 23 years for a streak that began in 1999.

Bessemer City is making its first-ever playoff appearance.

The highest-seeded local teams are Cramer and Lincolnton. Both are No. 2 seeds. Other top seeds are No. 4 2A Shelby and No. 5 1A Highland Tech.

Local league champions were Cramer (Big South 3A), Lincolnton (Catawba Valley 2A) and Shelby (Southern Piedmont 1A/2A).