If there seemed to be a little more balance to the area’s girls soccer teams this season, it’s because there was.
While Camden and Currituck continued to do well, upstart Edenton continued its improvement, defeating both the Lady Bruins and tying the Lady Knights, as well as traditional Northeastern Coastal Conference power First Flight, on its way to the second round of the 2A playoffs.
Ellie Whichard powered the Lady Aces offensively, but they proved to be a balanced attack with younger players like freshman Katie Rascoe making sizeable contributions, while they defended well, with Caroline Boyce backstopping a team that went 10-3-3 overall.
Edenton tied and defeated Coastal 10 co-champions Manteo, tied Camden and Northeastern Coastal Conference champions First Flight, and picked up a shutout win over Eastern Randolph.
Camden, meanwhile, set a school record with 76 goals and tied Manteo for the Coastal 10 championship, then taking the 1A East region title and advanced to the final eight in the state playoffs, going 13-4-2 overall.
Currituck, despite sophomore Sydnie Phillips, last season’s All-Area Player of the Year, missing three games due to a concussion, still led the team in scoring and was was second in assists. The Lady Knights still managed to reach the playoffs, but fell in the first round.
But even teams like Northeastern, featuring Cristina Galvan and Samantha DeLaVergne, and Pasquotank’s, with standout Hannah Hughes, had their moments too.
Despite a 5-11 overall record, the Lady Eagles were competitive with Edenton and Currituck, and lost its second matchup to the Lady Nighthawks by just a 3-0 margin. They also split games with Pasquotank, and had lopsided wins against Cape Hatteras and Hertford County.
The Lady Panthers may have won just four games, but they had narrow losses to Camden and Edenton and were stronger defensively.
Edenton coach Alicia Cassidy-Quate, who coached many of the girls on the All-Area team as a club coach, said it was a great year for girls soccer in northeastern North Carolina.
“We’ve got some girls who are playing year-round with the clubs in the area, which is so crucial because when they compete in the state playoffs against these teams from Winston-Salem, where I’m from, those players are playing year-round from middle school, constantly, and they’re playing better,” Cassidy-Quate said.
“Now, the fact that the girls here can now play year-round, getting different coaches and getting a fresh perspective, building programs instead of just teams, I think it makes them get on a much more even playing level with the rest of the state and it at least the rest of the state notices, and we need to be noticed. We need to be recognized.”
Here’s the All-Area girls soccer team:
Whichard, Edenton — Unanimous coaches selection for NCC offensive player of the year, offensive team MVP, scored 17 goals and added six assists for second round playoff team.
Boyce, Edenton — Was runner-up for NCC defensive player of the year, an all-NCC selection and had highest save percentage of all goalkeepers in conference.
Rascoe, Edenton — Had 10 goals and eight assists, was leader among conference’s freshmen.
Hughes, Pasquotank — A defensive stalwart for the Lady Panthers, helped keep games close, as they gave up two goals or less in nine of their 13 games, with three of their four wins coming by shutout.
DeLaVergne, Northeastern — Versatile player who saw time at every position except goalkeeper for Lady Eagles, was among team leaders in scoring.
Galvan, Northeastern — Primarily used as a forward, was team’s top scoring threat and was the go-to person when the Lady Eagles needed a goal late in a match.
Phillips, Currituck — 2013 All-Area Player of the Year missed three games due to concussion, still had 21 goals and was second on team in assists despite being man-marked or double-teamed in nearly every game.
Doherty, Currituck — As Lady Knights sweeper, played aggressive defense and got attacks started with her speed, was key part of their nine shutouts.
Gillikin, Camden — Was the Coastal 10’s offensive player of the year, scoring 25 goals and adding 10 assists. Goal total a school record.
Nelson, Camden — Key lynchpin and well-balanced in central midfield, had five goals, seven assists,
Robinson, Camden — Senior leader and offensive captain was team MVP, and All-Coastal 10, scored 15 goals and had 22 assists, which is new school record. Described by coach Chuck Leslie as the person who “set the example of what she wanted the team to accomplish.”
Lydia Shiel (Camden), Kaylee Wells (Camden), Allie Mitchell (Camden), Ashlan Jolley (Camden), Selena Garber (Camden), Hadiya Bembry (Edenton), Kate Whichard (Edenton), Peri Peeler (Edenton), Emma Railey (Edenton), Ellie Rinehart (Edenton), Lacey Hope (Edenton), Natalie Gonzalez (Edenton), Alex Archer (Currituck), Haley Naquin (Currituck), Isabella Taylor (Currituck), Amanda Duncan (Pasquotank), Kali Smith (Pasquotank), Raven Arnold (Pasquotank), Maddy Moncla (Northeastern).