Last year’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A girls soccer playoffs were so topsy-turvy that there are a lot of teams like Cardinal Gibbons this time of year – a conference title contender using an early-round playoff upset from a year ago as a motivator going into the season’s last weeks.
Last season, the Crusaders had a 20-game win streak snapped with a third-round upset to eventual state runner-up Middle Creek. It’s helped them stay focused even while atop the PAC-6 4A Conference.(12-1-1, 7-0), 2.5 games ahead of East Chapel Hill.
“We’re definitely using last year as a starting point,” senior Caroline Goudy said. “We started out pretty strong, got a little shaky at the end.”
Goudy has been a calming presence in the back line and was given the early assignment of helping get her younger teammates up to speed. It appears she has done a pretty good job of it.
Gibbons has only given up six goals this year. One third of them came last Monday in a 7-2 win against East Chapel Hill.
Communication has been the key, Goudy said.
“All of the seniors have a different role as leaders,” Goudy said. “We’re all very different and that’s what makes us different kinds of leaders and we all fit a different kind of role. We’re just trying to keep the team together and work as a big family out there.”
Gibbons coach Michele Miller has led the Crusaders to 3A titles before, but calls this the most talented group she’s had. Her team is lightning-quick. Speedster Taylor Currie leads the team in goals (15) followed by UNC recruit Maggie Pierce (10).
“It’s the strongest 11 that we’ve ever had,” Miller said. “We have tremendous bench as well, so we’ve got a lot of depth. We haven’t had that in a long time.”