Gracie Athus scored goals on either side of halftime to power Cary Christian School to a 3-0 win over Asheville Christian Academy in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 2A girls soccer championship match Saturday at Campbell University’s Eakes Athletic Complex.
Megan Hagan scored the other goal for the Knights, who finish their title-winning season at 19-3.
Asheville Christian wrapped up its campaign at 16-3-1.
It was a comprehensive performance for CCS, which entered the playoffs as a No. 5 seed. CCS created far more chances and controlled the match for long stretches on a warm afternoon.
“I’m very proud,” Cary Christian coach Brian Twidt said. “The girls played an awesome game in the heat. It was a tough game. Asheville suffered a bit in the heat, and they had to sub a lot. We had some girls that could stay in there and keep running them down. It was just a great game for us here.”
Hagan started the scoring for the Knights in the seventh minute, as the seventh-grader shook loose in the box and fired the ball into the bottom right corner of the net to make it 1-0.
Cary Christian had a chance to double its lead in the 16th minute, but Hagan’s shot from outside the box pinged off the upper right corner of the goal frame. Then the Knights had an even bigger opportunity three minutes later.
MaKenna Lagaly made a run into the box, where she was pulled down by an Asheville Christian defender. The referee pointed to the spot, and the senior captain stepped up to take the penalty shot.
But Emma Newton went low to save Lagaly’s shot, and Lagaly then watched as her follow-up shot went wide left of the open net.
Despite those looks at goal, the Knights led by that lone goal at the break, but Athus changed that in the 51st minute. The freshman ran onto a rebound in the Lions’ box and slammed the ball home to make it 2-0.
Athus completed her brace in the 77th minute when she picked up a clearance near the center circle, knocked the ball past an Asheville Christian defender, dribbled around Newton and tapped the ball into the net to complete the scoring.
“They were better,” Asheville Christian coach Terry Hughes said of the Knights. “They were faster, stronger, more aggressive. Just a better soccer team today. If that’s how they play every day, I’m not sure we can beat them.”
Asheville Christian’s Brantley Compton and Jordan Graham were named to the NCISAA 2A All-State team after the match. They were joined by Cary Christian’s Rachel Wiggins and Lagaly, who are seniors on an otherwise youthful team.
“I’ve got a girl that started in eighth grade,” Twidt said of Lagaly. “This is her senior year. Her last game and she’s been all-state four years in a row. She’s been playing for this for five years, so I couldn’t be happier.”