Holly Springs’ season of constant adjustment ended Wednesday night in the third round of the NCHSAA 4A girls soccer playoffs. The Golden Hawks, set back earlier in the season with the loss of their leading scorer to an ACL injury, fell 1-0 to Wilmington’s Hoggard High.
The Hawks became a much younger and defensive team than it wanted to be after losing Kirsten Bootes, a UNC-Wilmington recruit, and it still landed the team in the third round. Despite being the No. 29 seed, Holly Springs (10-8-2) upset Southern Pines’ Pinecrest High and Fayetteville’s Jack Britt in back-to-back rounds.
“It’s been a roller coaster ride. But these girls have been incredible in fighting against adversity,” Holly Springs coach Brian Miller said. “The day after we found out about Bootes, a lot of teams could’ve put our heads down and we went in there and my seniors said ‘No, this isn’t the end. It just means someone else has got to step up.’”
Holly Springs kept No. 5 Hoggard (20-2-2) off the board until the 68th minute. Sayres McKenna, the Vikings’ leading scorer, made a nifty move down the right touch line before releasing a close-range shot that deflected off the goalkeeper and in.
McKenna drew a penalty kick in the 23rd minute, which teammate Jessica Bennion took, but Holly Springs goalkeeper Nikki DeBardelaben had it timed perfectly to come up with the save.
“We left everything on the field tonight, it just wasn’t enough,” Miller said.
Miller is excited about the future of the program. He has mostly freshmen and sophomores on this year’s roster.
“It was a learning curve. We changed formations like crazy,” Miller said. “Every game we had to put someone in a different spot, but they trusted us and this has been the most rewarding season.”
Broughton will travel to Hoggard on Friday.