MOORESVILLE – Hough High’s record 32-game winning streak in girls soccer ended at the hands of rival Lake Norman this week. On April 29, the Wildcats supplanted Hough as conference champion, too.
Kelsey Steiner’s goal in the first overtime period gave host Lake Norman High a 2-1 victory against Hough. The win clinched the I-MECK 4A conference championship for Lake Norman, which is 20-0 overall and 13-0 in conference.
Lake Norman began the game ranked No. 2 in the N.C. 4A poll. Hough, the reigning N.C. 4A champion, was ranked No. 3. The Huskies (14-2) are 10-2 in conference.
“They made one more play than we did,” Hough coach David Smith said. “We had some great chances.”
There’s a good chance the rivals will meet a third time in next week’s N.C. 4A playoffs, as they did last season when Hough won all three.
“A lot of it is up to the girls,” Smith said. “We’ve got to be mentally tough and take advantage of our opportunities. There’s not a lot tactically that I would change. We had the game plan, we just didn’t make the plays.”
Steiner’s winning shot came 90 seconds into the 10-minute overtime, which was followed by a second 10-minute session (it was scoreless).
“I just wanted to get anything on it I could,” Steiner said. “I was reaching for the ball. I think I got my toe on it. Overtime is the last couple minutes of the game and you’ve got to leave it all out there. You’ve got to fight all the minutes you’re out there.”
Steiner had three overtime goals in a 5-2 victory against Mallard Creek two weeks ago.
Hough took a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute when Nicole Duncan deflected in Courtney Carroll’s free kick.
Hough goalkeeper Marnie Merritt made a diving save on Kendall Fischlein’s shot with six minutes left in the half. Lake Norman had two other shots late in the half that skidded just wide of the net.
Merritt made two spectacular saves midway through second half as Lake Norman applied offensive pressure in Hough’s end of the field. Lake Norman tied the game at 1 with 21 minutes left when Fischlein deftly popped a short shot over Merritt outstretched hands.
Hough forward Emmily Cowie had two solid late scoring chances. She broke in alone to Lake Norman goalkeeper Samantha Stoney’s right, but Stoney slid to block the shot from about 10 yards out.
Forty seconds into the first overtime, Hough worked the ball down the right sideline, where Sarah Moon’s crossing pass landed at Cowie’s feet directly in front of the net. But Cowie’s blast sailed over the crossbar.
Less than a minute later, Steiner’s goal gave Lake Norman a 2-1 lead it didn’t relinquish. Stoney finished with eight saves, but Lake Norman’s defense clamped down in the second overtime and didn’t allow any shots on net.
The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for Hough, which will close the regular season with a home game May 2 against Mallard Creek.