Thursday, May 6, 2010

Catholic girls soccer continues to dominate, chasing state title

The Charlotte Catholic girls’ soccer team has been as good as nearly any team in the state for the past six years, winning 121 games including six straight conference titles and twice finishing as the state runner-up in 2005 and 2007.

While the Cougars have had more success than almost every program in that span, they have fallen just short of their ultimate goal: winning a state championship.

“To realistically think we have a shot at winning it all every season is remarkable in itself,” Charlotte Catholic soccer coach Gary Hoilett said, who is in his 14th year as coach of the Cougars. “I’m very proud that we have been able to be a consistent top-notch program over the long haul, not for just a few seasons here or there.”

This season, Catholic is on a familiar path, with a 20-0-2 mark overall, including another perfect 12-0 in ME-GA 7 conference play. The Cougars, No. 2 in the state, have 18 straight going into the playoffs, while outscoring their opponents 101 to 6.

Once again, Catholic’s schedule has been no cake-walk as the Cougars have wins over four teams ranked in their respective top 15s (in the state) in Charlotte Country Day, Fort Mill (SC), Lake Norman and North Mecklenburg. The Cougars only blemishes came in ties with Providence and Porter Ridge.

“Every team wants to live up to what we have done in the past here at Catholic,” Hoilett said, who has guided his team to five state championships but hasn’t won one since 2003. “I think the challenge is can we focus on each individual opponent in the playoffs. If we can do that, I think we can do very well.”

Charlotte Catholic (20-0-2, 12-0)

Catholic has rolled through the regular season and first three rounds of the playoffs in the past six seasons in 3A soccer, going 119-6-15 in those games. But the 4th round of the playoffs and beyond has been a different story as the Cougars are 2-4 since 2005.

As a member of 2A, Catholic had no problems advancing through the playoffs, winning five state titles, including back-to-back championships most recently in 2002 and 2003.

This year, Catholic hopes to re-write their recent history books by not only making it past the 4th round, but also winning it all.

The Cougars will do it with a balanced attack on offense that features seniors Miranda Coughlin, Margaret Dickerson, GiGi Gunderson, Brooke Malloy, Callie Meriam and Kelly Petterson. The senior class 75 games in four years and hopes to finish it off in style.

The defense, which has allowed only five goals all season has been exceptional. Sophomore goalkeeper, Morgan Luckie, has been nearly impossible to score on, allowing only two goals all year.

Key Players

Margaret Dickerson…just one part of a wealth of senior talent on offense.

Morgan Luckie…no luck involved here, as sophomore has been nearly unbeatable in goal.

The Field

While few teams have been as good over the long haul as the Cougars, at least one team each season has been better for at least one game to knock Catholic out of the playoffs.

This season, the challengers to another possible state title are familiar foes. Catholic will play the South Piedmont’s No. 5 seeded team first. But bigger and better teams will be waiting.

No. 1 Marvin Ridge (17-0) is unbeaten, and will present a huge challenge if they match up with Catholic on the west side of the bracket. Statesville, Weddington and Hickory also present difficult outs if they make it through to meet the Cougars.

White Oak, the perennial power in the east (of N.C.), might be the team standing in the way again, if Catholic makes it to the state title game.

Key Teams

Marvin Ridge…Mavericks have been No. 1 for most of the season.

White Oak…familiar foe for Catholic, always near the top of state rankings.

“State of Success?”

Charlotte Catholic girls’ soccer the last 6 seasons

· 2010: 20-0-2, MEGA 7 Champs - ???
· 2009: 19-1-3, Queen City Champs – Lost 4th Round to Kings Mountain
· 2008: 16-3-3, Queen City Champs – Lost 4th Round to T.C. Roberson
· 2007: 22-2-3, Queen City Champs – State Runner-up to White Oak
· 2006: 23-2-1, Queen City Champs – Lost 4th Round to T.C. Roberson
· 2005: 21-2-3, Rocky River Champs – State Runner-up to Western Guilford

Overall: 121-10-15 in 6 six seasons

-- Special Correspondent Jay Edwards