RALEIGH — Cardinal Gibbons senior Christina Gibbons scored two goals, senior Kathleen Hickey had two assists, and senior Leigh McGill scored the other goal as the Crusaders advanced to the N.C. High School Athletic Association girls soccer 3A Eastern finals with a 3-1 win over Northern Guilford.
Gibbons (20-2-1) will host either Jacksonville or White Oak this week with a berth in the state finals on the line.
Cardinal Gibbons lost to eventual state champion White Oak in the Eastern final last year. The two previous years the Crusaders lost in the state championship game.
We definitely want it, especially this being our senior year, Gibbons said. Its kind of eluded us the past few years, so were going for it and hopefully we can get there. Weve been playing well and everyones excited.
Gibbons is the teams leading scorer and she put her team up 1-0 three minutes into the game with an assist from Hickey. Hickey also assisted McGill on her goal with 32 seconds left in the half for a 2-0 lead.
Gibbons added her second score ten minutes into the second half. After a corner kick, with the two teams battling for , she drilled in the loose ball for the 3-0 lead.
We like to come out of the gate hard, its definitely an advantage if we can get up quickly, Gibbons said.
Michelle Miller coaches the Crusader, who last won the state title in 2007.
Theyre a great group, Miller said of her seniors. (They have) great leadership, which is one of the important factors. Theyre very focused, all very driven. Their fantastic people first and foremost and just happen to be great soccer players, so were very fortunate.
They also play huge roles on the field.
They take the bulk of the responsibility, Miller said. Hickeys our midfielder that kind of sets everything up for us. Gibbons has taken on the goal scoring responsibility, and McGill the same thing. Steph Michalak plays a number of positions for us, and our keeper, Kristin Twomey, is a senior. Theyve all been here before, know what its like and theyre very focused. Also, Morgan Reid (a junior) plays in the middle and she is our glue and a lot goes through her.
Miller said the team excels when it is tested.
Northern pushed us hard, gave us a real test, and we love those kind of games, Miller said. A tight battle puts us at out best.
Northern won their first conference title this year and this is the farthest the Night Hawks have advanced in the playoffs.
This team really jelled nicely this year and with the experience we got here were hoping to get to this round next year, Northern Guilford coach Jamie Menchaca said.