Thursday, April 29, 2010

North Meck girls soccer on top again

The North Meck girls’ soccer team is used being on top of its conference. In fact, the Vikings have not only won the last three ME-CA 7 titles in a row, but also have been a major factor in the last two 4A state playoffs.

But despite all of their success, entering the 2010 season, a lot of people thought North Meck would take a back seat to Lake Norman in the newly formed I-Meck. The Wildcats have also been impressive, winning 67 games overall in the last three seasons including three straight North Piedmont Conference (NPC) titles.

But for North Meck, a new conference has yielded similar results as the Vikings are currently atop the I-Meck standings at 13-3-2 overall, 9-0-1 in conference play after beating Mallard Creek and Vance this week (4/27, 4/29).

“This is a team that welcomes any challenge at any time,” North Meck girls’ soccer coach Neil Roberts, who was also the former (UNC) Charlotte head (girls’) soccer coach. “Early on, we took a few hits (losses) in the non-conference against some good teams. But, now we have really gotten on a roll.”

North Meck has won seven of its last eight games, beating No. 11 Lake Norman (2-1), Southwestern 4A leader, Butler as well as archrival Hopewell. The Vikings’ only blemish in that span came in a 1-1 tie with Porter Ridge.

The Vikings, who have outscored their last eight opponents 31-2, have done it with a balanced attack on both offense and defense. Sophomore forward Allison Stearns has led the way with 12 goals and four assists, while senior Emily Archer (11 goals), sophomore Morgan Byrne (7 goals, six assists) have also been big.

On the defensive side, North Meck has barely allowed anything as senior Tara Zartman, junior Megan Sullivan and sophomore Lindsey Byrne, Morgan’s twin sisters, have controlled the back line with ease. Sophomore goalkeeper Emily Rusk has also been huge allowing only two goals all season with eight shutouts along the way.

“If the other team can’t score, they can’t win,” Roberts said. “I think that takes a lot of pressure off of our offense and puts it back on the other teams.”

--Special Correspondent Jay Edwards