Falcons Nest - May 19th

Lulu Brase, Assistant Athletic Director
The Falcons begin to wrap up the 2023-2024 athletic year as teams push deep in the play offs and see success on the courts, fields, tracks and courses. 
Varsity Boys Golf 
The varsity boys golf team wrapped up their season this week with a runner-up finish at the Division 3 NCISAA State Championship at Bryant Park on Monday afternoon. The Falcons played well on the opening nine but found themselves seven shots behind the leading team.  Demonstrating their strength of character, they mounted a furious comeback with Pete Myers, Jack Halloran, and Max Martin all shooting under par on the final nine, only to come up a bit short and miss a state title by two strokes.   
The Falcons posted a fantastic team score of 1 under par 215. Scoring for the Falcons were Pete Myers (66), Jack Halloran (730, and Max Martin (76).  Andrew Hobbs also turned in a solid round of 76.  Additionally, four players were named to the NCISAA All-State Team for their performance during the regular season and at the NCISAA State Qualifier match - Pete Myers, Jack Halloran, Max Martin, and Nick Joyce.   
A highlight of the day saw Freshman Pete Myers shoot an incredible six under par 66 to claim the individual state championship. Coach Halloran credited his maturity and focus when discussing the performance. "We could kind of see it coming. Pete was really dialed in all week.  He can drive the golf ball as well as anyone, but in this tournament, he played more of a control game and it paid off.  That is a testament to his growth as a golfer. He deserves the rewards for all the hard work he's put in and I'm incredibly proud of him."
When discussing the success of the season Coach Halloran praised the leadership of his captains, sharing that "Max and Jack have been in the program for a while so they know what is required to succeed. It was great to see them hold the team and themselves accountable all year long. Jack had a great bounce-back year and led us the whole way through. Max put it together in the last half of the season and played the way we know he is capable of playing." 
The Falcons are sure to continue their hard work, practice, and tournament play throughout the off-season and return for a stellar 2024 Spring campaign.   
Varsity Girls Soccer 
·         O’Neal vs BCA (State Playoffs 3rd Round) – Win 3-0 
·         O’Neal vs. Grace Christian Sanford (State Playoffs Quarterfinals) – Loss 0-1 
In any sport that ends its season with a tournament, only one team gets to win their very last game. Every other team, no matter how well they played all year, must suffer a defeat to close the season. This week, O’Neal joined the ranks of great teams that come up short.  
With their 13-1 regular season record, the O’Neal Falcons earned two byes in the NCISAA 2A state playoffs. Their third-round game took place on Saturday morning against Burlington Christian. Having already defeated them twice in the regular season, the Falcons came into the game with incredible confidence. Jaleesa Eichel and Charli Bunder each scored within the first seven minutes of the game to establish an early lead that would never waver. The heat of the day slowed the pace down, and the Falcons’ third goal didn’t come until halfway through the second half. BCA’s attack never put too much pressure on the defense, and the team cruised to a 3-0 victory. 
The quarterfinals brought a rematch with Grace of Sanford, the only team to beat O’Neal during the regular season. It was an incredibly even match, with both teams playing excellent soccer. The defenses held strong all of the first half to bring both teams goalless into the break. An unlucky foul found O’Neal playing with only ten players for most of the second half, and yet the intensity didn’t fade. Grace’s only goal came from a corner kick that was perfectly placed into the side netting by a highlight-reel-worthy header. The opposing goalkeeper also made some heroic saves to deny O’Neal an equalizer.  
The Falcons finish the season with their best record and deepest playoff run in quite some time. We’ll greatly miss our two seniors but will take comfort knowing the rest of the team is sophomores, freshmen, and eighth graders who will all continue to grow and develop as a team. Onward! 
Varsity Boys Tennis 
·         O’Neal at Carolina Friends (State Playoff Quarterfinals) - Loss 3-6 
The Falcons' season ended last weekend at the NCISAA Quarterfinals hosted by Carolina Friends. Trailing 2-1 coming out of singles, the Falcons were only able to win two singles matches.  Number 5 player, Noah Bass, extended his overall individual season record to 14-2. Meanwhile, freshman Nathan Reifenstahl won at number 6 singles in the afternoon.  Nathan and Noah also combined to win number 3 doubles. Several singles matches were very close, but in the end, they went to Carolina Friends.   
Despite the disappointing end to the season, the future is bright for the Falcon Tennis program, as all members of the Falcon team are underclassmen and will be returning next year.   
Middle School Baseball 
Congratulations to the O’Neal Falcons Middle School team on their SEMSAC Championship win on Tuesday against Northwood Temple Academy!  
Northwood Temple  
Sam Taylor dominated from the bump, pitching 3 no-hit innings. He finished his starting debut with 4 strikeouts against 11 batters. Camden Harrell closed the game allowing 2 hits, 1 run and 1 strikeout against 11 batters. The lefty, righty combo proved to be no match for the Eagles on the day!  
The bats stayed alive with Christian Baker going 2 for 4 with two doubles and an RBI. Jordan Cole went 1 for 3 with an RBI and Camden Harrell went 1 for 3 with 2 RBIs. Sam Taylor and Parker Maxwell both went 1 for 3 contributing singles toward the win.   
On the season, the boys finished the season with a combined 92 hits, 99 walks and only 50 strikeouts in 402 plate appearances. They scored 160 runs with 106 RBIs and an astonishing 99 stolen bases in only 14 games. Their defensive play averaged a remarkable .853 on the season. Our flock of ten pitchers faced 341 batters in 64 innings allowing only 55 hits, 32 earned runs on 78 runs allowed. They walked 63 batters and had 81 strikeouts. A combined season ERA of 3.5.   
Ultimately, the O’Neal Falcons went 13-1 on the season finishing undefeated in conference play and bringing home the championship. This group of 6th and 7th graders worked extremely hard for five days a week from February to mid-May and proved they belonged on top of the conference. Congratulations on a terrific season! 

Week of May 19th Photos
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