Spring soccer, just underway, could end up this season with Carrboro, Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill all in the state’s top 10 in their respective classifications.
Carrboro starts the year at No, 5 in the 2A. Chapel Hill is No. 9 in the 3A ranks, where the Tigers’ bête noire, Cardinal Gibbons is back at No. 1.
East was missing from the first Eurosport 4A rankings, which may be a serious oversight. Jordan was at No. 14 in the 4A poll, and that’s a team that hasn’t beaten the Wildcats since 2011.
East was at 1-1 after a 1-0 loss on Feb. 28 versus Chapel Hill, followed by a 3-0 win at Burlington Williams. The Wildcats completely dominated play at Burlington, ignoring the frigid weather and scoring in the first 5 minutes of each half.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
Emma Daum scored first against Williams, one-touching in a corner kick from center back Claudia Sollee. Emmy Burroughs fed Maggie Holroyd for a goal in the 45th minute, and ninth-grader Eva Killenberg supplied an insurance goal off an assist from sophomore Carolina Kolk.
Expect East to get strong contributions this year from underclassmen, but the Wildcats have good senior leadership, too. Attacking center midfielder Jordan Donnelly is the returning PAC-6 player of the year. She’ll be working with wing Riley Foster and Lauren Douglas up front.
Catawba recruit Dyland Bedell is back as defensive center mid, the point woman of an experienced defense. Ninth-grader Kayla Kern in goal will be a rare newcomer in back.
“Defense definitely should be a strong point for us this year,” coach Austin Collins said, noting he has 9-10 veterans on defense.
Chapel Hill has veterans at every position returning from last year’s 19-5-0 conference co-champions.
“We’re strong all across the field,” coach Ron Benson said in an honest assessment of his Tigers. “We expect to be a top-10 team in the 3A. With luck, we could be top 5.”
Alex Kimball, an early commit to North Carolina, will lead a talented Tiger offense. She fed a corner kick to sophomore Kaitlin Hendershot for the lone goal against East.
“She can play anywhere on the field,” Benson said. “She could play goalkeeper if she wanted.”
Two seniors are splitting time in the CHHS goal so far — Madeline Mesaros and Aylee Whitesides.
Like East, CHHS has most of its experience on defense. Midfielder Megan Dell, defensive mid Frances Reuland and defender Laura Sullivan are all returning starters.