Panther Creek’s task in Saturday’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A girls soccer championship game is pretty simple. All the Catamounts have to do is defeat one of the best teams in the country.
Chapel Hill faces a similar challenge when it plays Weddington for the 3A title.
Cornelius Hough (24-0-2), Panther Creek’s opponent, is No. 2 in the country in the National Soccer Coaches of America Association rankings and is making its third consecutive appearance in the state finals. Hough won in 2012, but lost to Green Hope in 2013.
Hough is averaging 4.8 goals per game, led by Mississippi recruit Courtney Carroll’s 28 goals and 21 assists. It has shut out 20 of its 26 opponents.
In the school’s four-year history, it has a 93-7-4 record in girls soccer.
“We know all of that,” Catamounts coach David Grant said. “But the title game comes down to who plays the best on a particular night. We know we are playing a quality opponent, but I think there are two quality teams playing.”
Panther Creek is also among the nation’s top teams.
“Our coaches tell us that rankings don’t matter,” Panther Creek senior Christina Moore said. “They are undefeated and we are undefeated.”
The Catamounts are 22-0-1 and had not allowed a playoff goal until Wilmington Hoggard sneaked in a tying goal in the final minutes of regulation in the semifinals. Panther Creek won 2-1 in overtime.
Panther Creek’s balanced attack is led by Justine James’ 15 goals.
“This has been an unreal year for us,” Catamounts senior Alex Pagano said. “We had an idea that we’d be pretty good, but we didn’t know for sure until we beat Millbrook early in the season. Millbrook had been predicted to be the best.”
Grant said the club’s unity has been a big factor in its success.
He expected the team to be strong with the return of all-star keeper Celeste Bernard (a Middle Tennessee recruit) and center back Rachael Everhart (UNC-Charlotte). He said the club made strides when transfers Mollie Cartwright and James and freshmen Meredith Hamby and Lindsey Haney joined in.
“They fit in perfectly,” Grant said. “It was as if they had been playing with the girls all along. I knew the chemistry that this team (had) would carry it a long way.”
The 4A championship at 8 p.m. is the final soccer championship of the day at N.C. State’s Dail Soccer Field.
The 2A game between Washington (22-2) and West Stokes (24-2-1) is scheduled for 11 a.m. Chapel Hill (22-2) plays Matthews Weddington (20-2-1) for the 3A title at 2 p.m., and East Carteret (12-5) takes on Community School of Davidson (18-0) in the 1A championship.
Chapel Hill is led by North Carolina recruit Alex Kimball’s 23 goals and 17 assists. Veteran coach Ron Benson plans to retire after this season.
Hobgood joins Pride: Mike Hobgood, who built a football program at South Granville High, was named the head football coach at Leesville Road this week.
Hobgood took a South Granville team with little football tradition and led it to the state playoffs the past seven years. He played on the Northern Durham team that reached the state 4A title in 1993 and was a starting offensive lineman under Mack Brown at North Carolina.
He coached at South Granville for nine years.
“I was happy at South Granville and wasn’t looking to leave,” he said. “But the Leesville Road opportunity was too good to pass up.”
He succeeds Chad Smothers, who is the new athletics director at Knightdale High.
“Leesville has the total package,” Hobgood said. “It has outstanding coaches, outstanding athletes and a community that really supports the school. People come to the games and really care about high school football.”
Hobgood’s first two teams at the Creedmoor school finished 3-8, but his following teams went 9-4, 8-4, 9-4, 5-7, 7-6, 9-4 and 9-3.
“The situation is a little different at Leesville than it was when I got to South Granville,” Hobgood said. “Leesville already has an established work ethic and a winning attitude.”
Leesville has posted 12-1, 12-1 and 8-4 records the past three seasons and has won 10 or more games in five of the past eight years.
Parkland coach leaves: Maurice Atwood, who had coached Winston-Salem Parkland to the past eight 4A dual-team wrestling titles, has been named the head wrestling coach at West Forsyth. He has a 435-11 career wrestling in dual-team meets.
Scotland coach dies: Tommy Britt, 50, the athletics director at Scotland High, died in a Charlotte hospital after a brief illness. He led the Scots to the state 4A baseball title in 2006 before leaving coaching to become the AD.