LEWISVILLE — The confidence and determination of defending champion Charlotte Providence Day, not to mention three unanswered goals, was too much for Cary Academy in the final of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A girls soccer championship played on the campus of Forsyth Country Day.
Two goals from senior Morgan Mosack and one from freshman Madeline Marks capped the 3-0 win.
“It was a championship game and we got beat by a championship team,” said Cary coach Jeff Costa. “They were very strong in the middle of the field and everywhere. We struggled to deal with their press throughout the game.”
The two teams had met early in the season, a 2-1 Providence Day win in Charlotte, and both are improved.
Though a prolific scoring team with 61 goals for the season, the hallmark of this championship run was defense. In 19 games this season, coach Dan Dudley’s team surrendered five goals and registered 15 shutouts. Anchored by senior goalkeeper Emma Pixley, the starting backline of centerbacks Caroline Smith and Camille Appleby and outside backs Isabel Rodgers and Dani Brown consistently stifled everything opposing offenses could muster. All four return next season.
“They are the most stellar defense I’ve seen in the state this year and it’s a shame all of them aren’t recognized,” said Dudley.
It was the second state title this year for Pixley, who was also a member of the Charger’s state champion basketball team.
With the win, Providence Day (16-0-3) stretched its unbeaten run to 31 straight matches, their last loss to Wilmington Hoggard in March of last year. Cary Academy finishes the season 14-3-1.
Mosack scored her first 15 minutes into the match off a corner kick by junior Cameron Jones, heading the ball high and hard just under the crossbar and over Cary sophomore keeper Aiden Lefebvre. Lefebvre certainly had the busier day as keepers went as Providence Day out shot Cary 11-4, forcing four saves.
“I thought their 22 (Mosack) was phenomenal,” admired Costa. “She did a wonderful job of dominating her role in the midfield.”
She scored her second on a free kick just a minute into the second half after substitute forward Zina Kalu was brought down outside the box on the left side. Mosack’s low off-speed shuttled around the wall and inside the far right post.
Cary’s first shot on goal in the game came 10 minutes later from junior Isabelle Tamburo whose hard drive down the center from 18 yards out was neatly handled by Pixley. She would have three saves for the match.
“Compared to yesterday I felt the team were more relaxed,” said Dudley, noting the semifinal against Durham Academy that went to overtime. “I think we jumped out all over them from the get-go, considering we had the extra time yesterday. We pressed them, we pushed them and we created a lot of chances today.”
The third goal by Marks also came off a corner kick as her looping side volley from 18 yards out off a short clearance fell into the back of the net.
Four players in the match were named to the all-state team including Mosack and Lauren Lucas from Providence Day, the second such honor for each of them, and Rebecca Kenney, Abbi Staker and Remi Swartz from Cary Academy, the second time for Kenney.