The team is ranked #11 nationally and won the first team state championship for Rabun Gap since 1985.
The varsity boys soccer team made history on Saturday in Charlotte, NC, bringing home the program’s first soccer state championship in school history and the first team state championship for Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in any sport since 1985.
In a rematch of last year’s state championship game, the Eagles defeated Carmel Christian 1-0 to clinch North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association 4A state title. After full regulation play with no score, the game went into two overtimes then a golden goal, sudden-death matchup. Sebastian Zavala ’22 scored the title-winning goal with an assist from Marco Pena ’22 with 4:03 remaining in the first five-minute golden goal overtime period.
Rabun Gap ended the season with a 20-1-1 record, winning 16 straight games. The Eagles finished nationally ranked as No. 11 in the country by Maxpreps.com. The soccer program at Rabun Gap has been highly successful in recent years. This was Rabun Gap’s third consecutive trip to the state finals, with state runner-up finishes in 2019 and 2020.
"I am extremely proud of the work this team put in and the character these young men showed throughout the season. We met as a group in the spring and set a goal to not only get back to the state championship but win it,” said Head Coach Jesse Brown. “We have great senior leadership, and I saw the whole team mature as the season went on. They all fought for each other on the field and committed every day to get better and improve. We started the season with eight road games in a row and that really helped bring us together. They became a family on and off the field while being committed to one common goal. Every player on this team deserves this state championship and I am very proud to be their coach."
The varsity soccer program represents seven countries and has ten players from local communities.
The team is led by Head Coach Jesse Brown and assistant coaches Chandler Brooks, Edwin Mendoza, and Justin Mercer. The state championship team included the following players: Shaun Ayivor ’24 of Accra, Ghana; Jack Barta’23 of Franklin, NC; Adné Brako’22 of Accra, Ghana; Kyle Brako ‘23 of Accra, Ghana; Rafael Castillo’23 of Monterrey, Mexico; Nolan Conrad ’24 of Rabun Gap, GA; Mateo Díaz Gutiérrez ‘22 of Santiago, Chile; Hugo Garcia Rodriguez ‘23 of Monterrey, Mexico; Cason Green ’22 of Richmond, TX; Davis Hill ’25 of Clarkesville, GA; Dawson Kirkland ‘24 of Franklin, NC; Julian Mulholland ’25 of Franklin, NC; AJ Nowack ‘22 of Rabun Gap, GA; Jackson Palmer ’22 of Clayton, GA; Will Parrish ’22 of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos; Marco Pena ’22 of Monterrey, Mexico; Poon Petchtae’23 of Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand; Adriel Portillo’22 of Clayton, GA; Emilio Roman Hinojosa’23 of Monterrey, Mexico; Omar Ruiz González ’22 of Querétaro, Mexico; Winfred Sarpong’24 of Alliston, Canada; Wongsathorn Supab ’24 of Sriracha, Thailand; Gus Williams’25 of Demorest, GA; Sean Zavala’24 of Rabun Gap, GA and Sebastian Zavala’22 of Moroleon, Mexico.
“This is such a historic moment for Rabun Gap and a testament to the growing success of our soccer program,” said Head of School Jeff Miles. “ It is such an honor to bring home a team state championship title after so many years. I am so proud of our players and coaches for all they have achieved this year. They are outstanding young men, on and off the field.”