RALEIGH -- It went down to a second round of penalty kicks, and Lisa Myers tallied on the eighth PK as North Mecklenburg outlasted Wilmington Hoggard 2-1 Saturday night in the N.C. 4A girls' soccer championship game at the Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Soccer Stadium at North Carolina State.
The teams battled through 110 minutes of grueling play, including the regulation 80, two 10-minute overtime periods and two five-minute sudden-victory periods. Both teams converted four of five in the first set of penalty kicks, with North sophomore keeper Emily Rusk and Hoggard freshman keeper Sarah Downing unable to keep the shooters at bay.
Then in the round of sudden-death in the shootout, both teams converted their first two attempts. Rusk came up with a save on the third sudden-death attempt, this one by Blythe Rhodes of Hoggard, and then Myers pushed her shot past Downing to end the marathon, North prevailing 7-6 on penalty kicks.
Rusk was voted the Most Valuable Player of the championship. She had six saves prior to the shootout, including keeping the game 1-1 early in extra time with a tremendous diving save, one of several great chances Hoggard had in the two 10-minute overtimes.
Sophomore midfielder Alison Stearns had opened the scoring in the 11th minute when her goal, assisted by Erin McAnulty, put North Mecklenburg in front 1-0. Then with less than 19 minutes left to play in regulation, Hoggard senior midfielder Madyson Marshburn headed in the equalizer after a long free kick from near midfield by Morgan Tilley.
North had a 7-4 edge in shots on goal in regulation, but Hoggard took the advantage in the overtimes so each team finished with 10 shots on goal.
North Meck completed a 21-3-2 season in earning its first NCHSAA girls' soccer title. Hoggard, also in the finals for the first time, wound up 25-1 after winning its last two playoff games 1-0 in overtime.
North Mecklenburg 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 2*
Wilmington Hoggard 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 - 1
*N. Meck wins 7-6 in penalty kicks
11th minute NM-- Alison Stearns (Erin McAnulty)
62nd minute H-- Madyson Marshburn (Morgan Tilley)