By David Rogers. BOONE, N.C. — For a No. 31 seed in the NCHSAA Women’s Soccer 4A West bracket of the state championship tournament, Southwest Guilford gave No. 2 seeded Watauga all they could handle before eventually falling, 2-0.
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The Pioneers got first half goals from a pair of sophomores in Kate Sears and Morgan Flynt, then hung on through a scoreless second half to win the day. Sears may have surprised even herself when she lofted a quick attempt at goal from near the left sideline, just missing a block attempt by a SWG defender before the ball looped over the outstretched hands of the visitors’ goalkeeper and ducked under the crossbar in the left upper corner of the goal.
Sears was also credited with an assist when she kicked a crossing pass to the center where Flynt redirected the ball past the goalkeeper and into the net.
Afterwards, Flynt seemed almost apologetic.
“I feel lucky that I got my shin on it,” said Flynt.
Of her early goal, Sears said she usually doesn’t like to take longer shots, but teammate Katie Durham has been egging her on, to make those attempts from longer distances if she is feeling it in the moment.
To be sure, Southwest Guilford rarely threatened in this match, which was played mostly in the Pioneers’ attacking half of the field. Even so, Watauga head coach Chris Tarnowski was impressed by the physicality of the Cowgirls from High Point.
“Honestly, Southwest Guilford surprised us by how physical they came out at the beginning of the game,” said Tarnowski. “Our players are able to play against almost any style, so they adapted well, but the physical nature of their play was unexpected.”
Tarnowski also noted that SWG made some halftime adjustments that impacted the game, too.
“In the first half, it became obvious that the best player on their team was the center fullback. For the second half, they moved her up to play center forward, or striker, which put more offensive pressure on our defenders,” said Tarnowski. “That also took away some of our chances to attack, too. Southwest Guilford is a good team and we are lucky to have gotten past them.”
Tarnowski had special commendations for Charlotte Cuthbert, a junior midfielder who drew the tough assignment of filling the role usually played by senior captain Maya Nelson, who was sidelined for this game by COVID-19.
“I just wanted to play hard and play well,” said Cuthbert, “and do everything I could to help win the game, all for Maya. She is so good and so talented, I just wanted her to be able to play in the playoffs her senior year, so we are hoping she is back for the Round 2 and beyond.”
With the win, Watauga will now host No. 18 Cox Mill in Round 2 on Thursday, May 18, tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. at Jack Groce Stadium. Cox Mill survived a hard-fought, evenly matched Round 1 pairing with Reagan, to win 3-2. The Chargers are led on offense by midfielder/forward Courtney Chase, midfielder Ella Berry, and striker Skylar Noll. With the Cox Mill backline, goalkeeper Reese DeJong has recorded nine shutouts on the season.
At 12-6-3 overall, Cox Mill finished the regular season at No. 3 (7-3-2) in the Greater Metro 4A Conference behind No. 1 Lake Norman (10-2, 13-5-2) and No. 2 South Iredell (8-4, 9-8-1).
“It is deceptive, just looking at the bracket’s seedings,” said Tarnowski. “Some of the lower seeds are playing in really tough conferences, so their records don’t always reflect how good they are. I think Southwest Guilford would be right with us near the top of the Northwestern Conference if they were in our conference. So I feel good about our ability to win this one and advance.”
4A West Bracket Results
- No. 1 Weddington 6, No. 32 Mt. Tabor 0
- No. 16 Northern Guilford 5, No. 17 East Forsyth 0
- No. 8 Lake Norman 3, No. 25 Mooresville 0
- No. 9 Providence 7, No. 24 Sun Valley 3
- No. 28 Porter Ridge 1, No. 5 Page 0
- No. 12 Northwest Guilford 2, No. 21 Myers Park 1
- No. 13 T.C. Roberson 1 (Win by PKs, 3-0), No. 20 Charlotte Catholic 1
- No. 4 Asheville 7, No. 29 Mallard Creek 1
- No. 3 West Forsyth 6, No. 30 Piedmont 1
- No. 14 South Mecklenburg 2, No. 19 Hickory Ridge 0
- No. 6 Ardrey Kell 9, No. 27 Independence 0
- No. 11 Marvin Ridge 7, No. 22 South Iredell 0
- No. 7 Hough 2, No. 26 Hopewell 0
- No. 10 Cuthbertson 5, No. 23 A.C. Reynolds 0
- No. 18 Cox Mill 3, No. 15 Reagan 3
- No. 3 Watauga 2, No. 31 Southwest Guilford 0