Local girls’ soccer preview:
Published: Feb 23, 2013 12:12 AM
Modified: Feb 23, 2013 12:13 AM
The big question entering this year’s Green Hope girls’ soccer season was, “How many?”
As in, how many nonsenior players from last year’s team would choose to return for a chance to bring home the program’s first state title.
The Falcons spent most of last year No. 1 in the nation, unbeaten and untied, but lost 2-1 in the state championship after leading with 11 minutes left.
Sometimes in high school girls’ soccer, elite, college-bound players won’t play; but the answer to the big question at Green Hope turns out to be “all but one,” making the Falcons a favorite for the 4A state title game again. Green Hope (25-1):
The headliner is Alexis Shaffer (30 goals, 18 assists), but midfielder Alexis Degler (35 goals, 13 assists) is just as vital to the Falcons’ attack. Maura McDonnell’s 18 assists tied Shaffer for the most in the Triangle. Seniors Sydney Curtis, Amanda Lasater, Callie McClain, Cameron Sigmon and Morgan Vezina all plan to play in college. Cary (13-5-1):
The Imps were ousted in the first round last year after finishing second in the Tri-9. Senior Bria Dixon was the top scorer, while Anna Witte led assists. Samantha Bagherpour also returns. Apex (12-5-1):
The Cougars made it to the second round of last year’s playoffs and return top goal-scorers in Clemson recruit Paige Reckert (29 goals, 7 assists) and Charlotte recruit Kaitlin Walker. Holly Springs (12-7-2):
Coach Brian Miller returns junior midfielder Dominique Babbitt (13 goals, 19 assists) and seniors Rachel Noel (10 assists), Megan Poth (11 goals) and Kasey O’Hara after the Golden Hawks’ best Tri-9 season. Panther Creek (10-9-1):
The Catamounts have made it to the postseason five consecutive years and will try to keep that record alive under new coach David Grant. Sophomore Briana Velasquez and seniors Hanna Socha and Taylor Francis return. Fuquay-Varina (8-12-2):
The Bengals made it to the second round of last year’s playoffs as a wild-card, but Ellie Barnes (24 goals, 3 assists), one of the Triangle’s top scorers, has graduated. Athens Drive (5-12-5):
Junior Riley Nociti is the Jaguars’ lone all-conference player returning. Middle Creek (3-14-1):
The Mustangs’ Kimmie Pittman has signed to play at Methodist next year. Lee County (1-16-1):
The Yellow Jackets hope to steal a few wins in their final year in the Tri-9. Defender Jill Davis and goalkeeper Olivia Sturdivant lead the way.Private schools Cary Christian (16-3-1):
The Knights are a mainstay in the NCISAA’s final four, led by returning forward Brae Buster. Cary Academy (8-6-1):
Sophomore Rebecca Kenney was the Chargers’ leading scorer last year.