With just five seniors lost off last year’s girls soccer team at Fike that finished 13-5-2 and rolled to a perfect 10-0 mark en route to the Big East 3A Conference crown, one might think the Golden Demons might be poised for another long playoff run.
Coach Toni Varacchi’s team has almost matched last year’s record, going 12-5-2 and is tied with Rocky Mount for the conference lead, but it didn’t always look this way.
At one point, the season looked like it was heading for rebuilding mode after an 4-4-2 start.
“We’ve got five or six freshmen and two sophomores and two seniors,” Varacchi said. “We’re somewhat inexperienced. We’ve got a good core group we’re trying to build around and fill in the holes. ... But I think the pressure is more on ourselves based on how well we’ve done competitively. Everybody has their ups and downs.”
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Fike reached the fourth round of last year’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A playoffs before a 4-1 loss to traditional power Jacksonville.
What spurred this year’s midseason turnaround was a strong slew of nonconference teams.
In the Battle at the Beach tournament, Fike lost to Croatan 4-1, but turned around and beat White Oak 3-0 and tied J.H. Rose 3-3. At The Brittany, the Golden Demons lost 3-1 to East Chapel Hill, and tied Currituck County 4-4.
After back-to-back losses to Corinth Holders and D.H. Conley, Fike won eight in a row, proving Varacchi right.
“It’s why we play three games in a row – to get the competition,” Varacchi said. “Will the losses and the ties hurt down the road? Probably, as far as seeding. But as far as competitive advantage, it’s going to help.”