CARY — Cary Christian girls’ soccer coach Brian Twidt said after Tuesday’s 3-0 win over St. David’s that his team has work to do if it wants to make yet another deep playoff run in 2013.
Cary Christian lost in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association semifinals last season, ending a run of six consecutive 2A title game appearances.
“We lost a large group last year so we’ve got a different group,” Twidt said. “But I think we’ve got some good players and if they can continue to grow, we’ll still do well.”
Despite losing many of last year’s key contributors to graduation, the Knights’ record is now 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the Eastern Plains Independent Conference. Few teams have made life more difficult for Cary Christian, which has dominated the EPIC in recent years, than the Warriors. St. David’s played Cary Christian tough again Tuesday, especially early in a game that was tied 0-0 at halftime.
“We’ve had a tough rivalry with them,” Twidt said. “They’ve probably been our toughest competition in the last four or five years.”
The loss dropped St. David’s to 3-6 (3-2).
Warriors coach Jennifer Partenheimer, a former standout at Apex, said her young team’s effort and fight have been encouraging.
“We’re battling through a bunch of injuries right now and we’ve got a really young team,” Partenheimer said. “But we’ve got a good group of girls who want to be here, want to work for each other. I think that as the season goes on, we will only mature as a team.”
Cary Christian pulled away after halftime thanks to strong performances by senior Brae Buster and sophomore Natalie Baba. The Knights’ first goal of the game came in the 43rd minute when Baba buried a rebound of a deflected corner kick for a 1-0 lead.
Just four minutes later, Buster took advantage of a quality assist from Baba and made it 2-0 on an open shot from just outside the 18-yard box.
Buster added another goal in the 25th minute, this time capitalizing on a long assist from MaKenna Lagaly to beat the defense down the right side of the field for a clean look.
The two goals by Buster, who Twidt called his team’s ‘star player and playmaker,’ were expected. The defensive shutout led by first-year goalie Avery Roland, however, came as a pleasant surprise.
“Avery has been a huge asset to our team,” Buster said. “Coming into the season, we didn’t even have a goalie. She’s really stepped up. She’s just a sophomore and hasn’t been a goalie for us in the past – last year she played field. So she’s definitely stepped up and we’re all really proud of her.”