RALEIGH - Four North Carolina High School Athletic Association women's state soccer championships will be decided Saturday in the 28th annual NCHSAA finals set for Dail Soccer Field at North Carolina State University.
Swansboro (22-5-1) will take on South Iredell (22-2) at 2 pm. Swansboro is in the finals for the third time in the last five years and sixth overall, and won state crowns in 2006, '09 and '10. It's the 9th straight year a team from Onslow County will play for a state championship. South Iredell makes its first appearance in the championships after knocking off previously unbeaten East Bend Forbush 1-0 on Tuesday night in a regional final.
Swansboro has outscored its opposition 115-21 this year and has recorded 17 shutouts, including an amazing 27-0 edge in the playoffs. South Iredell, though, hasn't allowed a goal in the postseason either and the Vikings are led by Catawba Valley Athletic Conference Player of the Year Miracle Campbell, with 27 goals this season.
The first game Saturday is scheduled for an 11 a.m. start for the 3-A championship, sending a perennial power, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (21-2-1) against a newcomer to the state finals, Hickory St. Stephens (21-3-2). St. Stephens knocked off Charlotte Catholic 1-0 in the regional finals on Tuesday night.
Gibbons, in the finals for the fourth time, is led by Duke signee Christina Gibbons and junior all-American Morgan Reid, who has verbally committed to Duke and competed for the U.S. under-17 team in the 2012 FIFA World Cup. Macy Frankliln, the Northwestern Conference Player of the Year, paces St. Stephens and has scored 47 goals this season, including 12 in the playoffs.
The 4-A game will kick off at 5 pm and will pit two outstanding teams in a rematch of last year's 4-A final. Unbeaten Cary Green Hope (27-0), ranked number one in the nation according to one service, will face Cornelius W.A. Hough (21-2).
Last year Hough rallied in the final minutes to nip Green Hope 2-1 and went on to record 32 consecutive victories, an NCHSAA record, before the streak was ended in late March. Green Hope has not lost since last year's state final.
The unbeaten Falcons have a potent offense to go with a stingy defense, with 147 goals scored this season against just 15 allowed. Alexis Degler and Alexis Shaffer each have 38 goals on the season. Hough's scoring is topped by Brandi Arey (20 goals) and Courtney Carroll (19), while Marnie Merritt has 18 shutouts in goal.
The final game at 8 p.m. will be for the 1-A title, with Raleigh Charter (20-1) taking on Lake Norman Charter (18-3-3). Raleigh Charter is in the finals for the third time, winning the title in 2007 and making its first visit to the finals since 2009, while Lake Norman Charter is the championship for the first time.
Senior goalkeeper Carolyn Huddy of Lake Norman Charter was the Southern Piedmont Conference Player of the Year and will play at UNC-Wilmington next year. Raleigh Charter is led by senior captains Rachel Hammond and Ilana Green, with Green committed to play at The Citadel next fall.
The Raleigh Sports Consortium serves as the primary host city partner for the women's soccer championship, along with the Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.
NORTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
28th ANNUAL WOMEN'S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIPS
DAIL SOCCER FIELD, NORTH CAROLINA STATE
SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2013
Class AAA: Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (21-2-1) vs. Hickory St. Stephens (21-3-2), 11 am
Class AA: Swansboro (22-5-1) vs. South Iredell, 2 pm
Class AAAA: Cary Green Hope (27-0) vs. Cornelius W.A. Hough (21-2), 5 pm
Class A: Raleigh Charter (20-1) vs. Lake Norman Charter (18-3-3), 8 pm
Event: NCHSAA Women's Soccer Championships
Date: May 25, 2013
Site: Dail Soccer Field, North Carolina State University
Game Times: 11 am, 2 pm, 5 pm and 8 pm on Saturday
Admission: $8 at gate
First Held: 1986
Qualifiers: Eastern and Western champions meet for state titles; 64 schools qualified for playoffs in 2-A, 3-A and 4-A classifications, and 32 in 1-A
Last year's champions: Cornelius W.A. Hough (4-A), Jacksonville White Oak (3-A), Carrboro (2-A), Southwest Onslow (1-A)
Host City Sponsors: Raleigh Sports Consortium, Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau
Of Interest: Raleigh Broughton with 13 and Greensboro Grimsley with 12 have the most appearances in the NCHSAA women's soccer championships.