Pats Rally From Slow Soccer Start
The Pinecrest girls found themselves in unfamiliar territory when they lost three of four soccer matches to begin the recently completed season.
Todd Abbey was the new coach, and Lyndsey Anderson was the only senior on a squad that went 19-2-1 under Larry Martin in 2008.
Under a new system, Abbey sensed some confusion and doubts in the minds of the players after a 3-0 home loss to East Chapel Hill dropped the team to 1-3.
The Patriot coach credits a players' meeting initiated by Anderson the next week with helping the team regain its winning mentality. Two games later, the Pats put it all together in a 12-2 rout over a Scotland County team that was expected to give them a run for their 12th Mid-Southeastern Conference title in a row.
"You could see her leadership come out," Abbey says of Anderson. "Then all of a sudden, everything seemed to click at once. I think that was one of the best games they played all year."
The Patriots went on to finish 14-0 in the conference and 18-5 overall. They defeated Garner and J.H. Rose in the state playoffs before a penalty kick shootout loss to New Hanover denied their bid to make it to the fourth round for the second time in the program's history.
Eight different players received post-season recognition led by junior Bailey Pages who became the third Patriot to receive all-state honors.
Pages, Anderson, junior Rebecca Dupre and sophomores Kate Hieronymus and Sarah Dejak were All-Region 6 selections. Abbey was the Region 6 Coach of the Year.
Joining those five players on the All-Mid-Southeastern Conference squad were junior Rachel Dokich and sophomores Lauren Corrigan and Beth Hieronymus. Abbey also received the honor of Conference Coach of the Year.
The Patriot coach was asked what about the team made the biggest impression in his first season as a high school coach.
"I think it was how they were able to come together and play a completely team game," he said. "The toughest thing about preparing for us was it was hard to pinpoint anybody and it showed in the stats."
Pages joins Latanya Cain (2007, 2008) and Lauren Broderick (2004) as Patriot girls that have earned all-state recognition. She scored 19 goals and notched a team-high 13 assists in addition to contributing on the defensive end.
"Bailey performs at a very high level regardless of the team we're playing," Abbey says. "She raises the level of everybody else on the field."
Corrigan was the team's leading goal scorer with 21. Anderson and Kate Hieronymus scored 17 and 15 respectively, and each also contributed 10 assists. Midfielder Dokich was an aggressive force at both ends and one of the assist leaders with seven.
Defenders Dupre and Beth Hieronymus, and goalkeeper Dejak, were recognized for their contributions in holding opponents to a total of 16 goals while recording 14 shutouts.
On a team that rarely started the same 11, junior defenders Mary Barkley and Megan Rock, and sophomore goalkeeper Shannon Porter, also helped the Patriots stop opponents.
"I can't say enough about the way they played and they're all coming back," Abbey says of the defensive corps. "We played a lot through the back and the poise of those players being able to take people on really helped the team." The Patriots scored a total of 126 goals with 18 different players getting a piece of the action. Freshmen Ally Parziale, 11 and Antonia Meyers, 10 were the other double-figure goal scorers. Sophomore Claire Epling returned from a knee injury late in the season to score eight goals. Another freshman, Keegan Cary, came on strong in the playoffs, finishing with five goals and four assists.
Juniors Sarah Senior (eight goals, four assists) and Haley Cioccolanti (two goals, one assist) sophomores Michelle Lynch (two goals, four assists) and Mariotti Meyers (four goals and two assists) round out the deep and talented squad.
Team awards by vote of the Patriot players went to Kate Hieronymus (MVP), Anderson (Leadership), Pages (Best Offensive Player), Dupre (Best Defensive Player), Cary (Newcomer of the Year), Epling (Comeback Player) and Dupre (Players' Choice).
The Pinecrest jayvee team enjoyed another successful season, finishing 12-2-3 under the direction of Ray Blatz. Blatz and Fabio Boateng also assisted Abbey.
The Conference Player of the Year was Erika Dowdy (Hoke), and Janae Aiken (Hoke) was Goalkeeper of the Year. Theresa O'Sullivan of Terry Sanford was selected as the Region 6 Player of the Year.
The Patriots were ranked 13th in the final 4A state poll. Leesville Road defeated Ardrey Kell last Saturday on penalty kicks to win the 4A state championship for the second year in a row.
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