CARY — If there is any complacency on the No. 1 girls’ soccer team in the county, it wasn’t apparent Wednesday night.
On a drizzly, dreary night, Green Hope clinched the Tri-9 Conference championship and ran its record to 21-0 and 15-0 in the conference with a dominant 4-0 win over Panther Creek (13-3-1, 13-3).
The powerhouse Falcons got goals from Alexis Shaffer, Callie McClain, Kenley Sigmon and Mo McDonnell and looked very much like the best team in America.
The drive for the state championship starts next week, but Green Hope clearly wasn’t looking that far ahead.
“We had to win this game in order to win the conference,” said Shaffer, a senior co-captain. “It was our last home game until the playoffs, and we all got excited and we were pumped for this game.
“It’s really exciting. It was senior night, so that was also a plus.”
But there’s more on the Falcons’ agenda, of course. With talent at every position, Green Hope might be the favorite to win the state title. The games, of course, still have to be played, no matter what kind of hype the Falcons get.
“We still have to stay really focused,” Shaffer said. “We stay humble and we can’t let that get to our head. We have to focus on our goal, which is the state championship.”
Shaffer and fellow seniors Sigmon, Alexis Degler and Sydney Curtis played on a national championship club team, so they know what it takes to win at the elite level. That experience should serve the team well, coach Bobby Peterson said, when the playoffs begin.
“They’ve gotten hype before, but they realize if you don’t do the work, it’s not going to happen,” Peterson said. “We’ve had several teams, and I’m sure they’ve been on teams where you come in as the team that should win, and you don’t.
“I really haven’t had to do a lot, as far as that goes. The captains are very good, the seniors are focused, and they’ve managed a lot of that themselves.”
Green Hope closes out the regular season Thursday against Cary and begin the playoffs next week against the No. 4 team from the PAC-6, likely Northern Durham or Riverside.
“It’s going to take a whole team effort,” Shaffer said. “We all have to work together, from the defense to the midfield to the forwards – and also the goalie. Hopefully, we can get it done.”