HUNTERSVILLE – The Lake Norman area produced two girls soccer state champions last spring (Hough High and Davidson Day). This year, several local squads could make deep runs into the state playoffs.
Here’s a preview of each contender heading into the postseason:
• LAKE NORMAN CHARTER: The Knights (13-3-3) won the top seed in the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A conference by winning all 12 conference games. They were scheduled to begin the N.C. 1A playoffs with a 7 p.m. home game May 8 against West Montgomery (7-8-1).
Lake Norman Charter is ranked No. 6 in the state 1A poll, and rebounded from a 1-2-2 start. The Knights have played a tough non-conference schedule, including games against playoff qualifiers in higher classifications – Hough (4A), Hopewell (4A) and Marvin Ridge (3A).
Riley Kane’s 16 goals lead a balanced scoring attack, with Erin Iknayan (12 goals, seven assists), Julie Johnson (nine goals, five assists), Carolina Sanchez (10 goals), Taylor Gilbert (10 goals), Rina Leonidas (eight goals, four assists) and Madeline Iknayan (four goals, 12 assists)
• HOUGH: The reigning N.C. 4A champion is 16-2-0, with both losses by a goal to rival Lake Norman. Hough earned the No. 2 playoff seed from the I-MECK 4A conference and beat Alexander Central 6-0 in the first round of the playoffs May 7.
“We have many girls on this team that have already played 11 playoff games in their career,” Hough coach David Smith said. “You like to think that it helps us approach these games with a much different outlook than other teams that may not have the playoff experience. But the bottom line is that we have to get the job done each time we step on the field.”
Hough’s defense is anchored by senior goalkeeper Marnie Merritt, an Ole Miss signee who has been a part of 15 shutouts. The offense is led by Brandi Arey (17 goals, 10 assists), Courtney Carroll (15 goals, 13 assists), Courtney Crump (10 goals, six assists), Sarah Moon (nine goals, eight assists) and Nicole Duncan (12 assists).
“You cannot win the state title in these early rounds, but you can lose it,” Smith said. “By that I mean that if you are thinking too far ahead and looking past your opponent then you can put yourself in a tough position and possibly end up losing. You have to treat each opponent with respect and focus on beating them.”
• HOPEWELL: The Titans (9-9-1) earned the No. 4 playoff seed in the I-MECK 4A conference. They were scheduled to play at Indian Trail Sun Valley (15-4-1) on May 8.
Hopewell won three of its last four games to snag a playoff spot and recovered from an 0-3-1 start. Kelly Flanders (21 goals, six assists) and freshman Logan Sandate (six goals eight assists) are the top offensive threats.
• DAVIDSON DAY: The Patriots are the state’s top-ranked team in the 2A private school poll. They’re 16-3 and won the Southern Piedmont Athletic Association title with a 9-0 record. The Patriots are expected to draw a first-round bye when playoff pairings are announced May 8.