After a heartbreaking loss a game away from the state championship a year ago, Cardinal Gibbons girls’ soccer team has used that to add fuel to its fire in the first two rounds of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs, making Holly Springs its latest victim in a 4-0 home victory.
Since the 1-0 loss to Middle Creek in 2016, Gibbons hasn’t lost a single game against an in-state opponent – its sole loss coming to Columbus (Ga.) in a match that didn’t feature its full lineup.
“It’s definitely always in our mind. Getting to the state championship and winning the title is in the forefront of what we want to do and we want to give ourselves the opportunity to get there every year,” Gibbons coach Michele Miller said.
The Crusaders took an early lead as North Carolina recruit Maggie Pierce slotted a penalty kick into the top right corner two minutes into the match. Pierce’s first attempt was saved, but a Golden Hawk charged the box early, given her the second attempt.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
18 minutes later, Gibbons doubled its lead on a give-and-go play between Emmy Duerr and Taylor Currie that ended with Duerr ricocheting the ball off the right post and in.
Caroline Goudy kept the momentum going, creating space with a crafty move and shot to make it 3-0 in the 22nd minute.
Pierce added the exclamation point to the evening with a 62nd minute strike off the ball from Haley Garrett.
Gibbons has allowed only seven goals all season and with Pierce out next week at a U17 U.S. Women’s National Team Camp, the Crusaders’ defense will need to shine its brightest, something Miller expects.
“I think I’m going to learn a lot with the level and different kinds of people I’ll meet there. I think it’ll be good learning for me and I can bring some of it back,” Pierce said. “That higher competition level will help our team improve … I think when I come back my team will still be in it.”
The season ending was disappointing for the Golden Hawks, but with 23 members of the roster – 19 of which are underclassmen – returning next year, the Golden Hawks look to be a formidable frontrunner for the new Southern Wake Athletic Conference crown.