KEEP POUNDING

During a year in which state championship runs are sprouting up left and right, what’s the most interesting one on the horizon?

Sure, West Carteret and East Carteret softball both have a shot at reaching the third round or further, but the most compelling case comes from the Croatan girls soccer team.

That’s right.

We’re still talking about Croatan soccer.

The smoke from the boys state championship has barely cleared, but I’m selfishly wondering what could be better than a boys soccer state championship. How about a boys and girls state title in the same school year?

It has happened nine times since the first girls state championship soccer game in 1986: 3A Chapel Hill in 2017-2018, 3A Weddington in 2015-2016, 4A Green Hope in 2012-2013, 3A Marvin Ridge in 2009-2010, 2A Cardinal Gibbons in 2006-2007, 2A Charlotte Catholic in 2001-2002, 3A Ragsdale in 1995-1996, 2A Southwest Guilford in 1994-1995 and Ragsdale again in 1993-1994.

As a side note, while researching those state championships, I realized neighboring Onslow County teams won an eye-popping 19 boys and girls NCHSAA soccer state championships between 2002-2012.

There were three years – 2002-2003, 2005-2006 and 2012-2013 – in which three schools won state titles. That’s an incredible run. Oddly enough, no Onslow County soccer team has won a state title since 2012.

However, Croatan could become the only team in state history to win state titles when the two seasons overlapped each other. The Cougars’ girls team had played three games before the boys won their state championship.

So far, the Cougar girls are 4-0 and haven’t given up a goal yet. On Monday, they posted an 8-0 win over Richlands (3-1), the No. 36-ranked team in the 2A according to MaxPreps.com. Croatan is ranked No. 7 in the classification.

Like the boys team, we won’t really know how good the girls team is until the playoffs. The 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference isn’t terrible, but No. 30-ranked Dixon (2-0-1), No. 32 East Carteret (2-2-1), No. 52 Southwest Onslow (1-1-2) and Richlands won’t be enough to derail the Cougars or push them to a close game.

Due to the truncated season length, Croatan only got to schedule one nonconference match. That was Havelock, which it defeated 8-0.

Croatan has a talented roster, a solid mix of new and experienced players. Senior Logan Howard and Haley Cousins have combined for 17 goals and seven assists, freshman Emma Brubaker has three goals and juniors Cora Taylor and Gentry Straub have two goals.

Keeper Carolina McAloon has four saves on just four shots against this season.

It would have been hard to imagine the girls team being state championship material after graduating starting keeper Kelly Hagerty, defenders Jessica Stern, Savannah McAloon and Annie McLean, midfielders Lorena Montesano and Ally Roth and forward Mckenzie Keeler, but this season is no ordinary one.

The Cougars look like they’ll win out during the regular season, but what happens once the postseason actually starts is anyone’s guess. And if the girls get a No. 10 seed going into postseason play like the boys did, the sweet irony of a girls state title in the same year would be icing on the cake.

(Send comments or questions to zack@thenewstimes.com or follow him on Twitter @zacknally)

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