Weddington High School junior Morgan Macia scored her 14th goal of the season and the Warriors used a stifling defense to defeat Corinth Holders 1-0 to win the Class 3A State Soccer Championship Saturday.
Weddington won the 2016 state championship with a 24-0-1 record and the Warriors had to replace seven starters from that team that finished ranked No. 7 nationally.
But Weddington didn’t miss a beat.
This year’s Weddington team finished the season with a 22-2 record after going 10-0 in winning the Southern Carolina Conference championship. The Warriors were 6-0 in the playoffs and they shutout their opponents five times. In all, 17 of the Warriors’ 22 victories were shutout wins.
“It’s pretty nice,” said Weddington coach Powell Williams. “It is a great accomplishment. It’s tough to come back and win back-to-back, especially with the quality of talent that we lost. We had four freshmen, three of which started almost every game, that contributed.”
Williams said Weddington didn’t have the same scoring punch as the 2016 team but the Warriors made up for it with a stellar defense. Keeper Stephanie Stull and senior defenders Remi Roberts and Gabby Cormier were key for Weddington’s defense.
“We didn’t have the scoring threat that we have had in past years,” Williams said. “Two seniors and two juniors started in the back line since their freshmen year. Without the leadership of those two senior defenders — Remi Roberts and Gabby Cormier — I don’t think our season ends up the way it did.”
Weddington’s lone goal in the championship game came 12 minutes before halftime when Macia beat several Pirates defenders before pushing a goal past freshman goalkeeper Alyssa Walawender for the 1-0 lead.
It was the first time Corinth had given up a postseason goal this year. Weddington had several other scoring chances but Walawender came up with several big saves to keep the Pirates in it.
The Pirates’ best chance came in the second half when freshman Anu Kane, who is committed to South Carolina, took control of a loose ball. Kane skipped a pass by Weddington goalkeeper Stephanie Stull to teammate Lexi Chase. Chase, who had the game-winner in the fourth round – had her shot blocked by a Warriors defender and a rebound attempt was wide of the goal.
Weddington junior Makayla McGee nearly added an insurance goal for the Warriors late in the game after receiving a pass from freshman Faith Adams. But Walawender made another save to give the Pirates one last chance with five minutes to play in the contest.
Weddington advanced to the title game with a 3-1 win over Cox Mill in the semifinals. It was the second-straight season that Weddington defeated Cox Mill to advance to the title game.
Weddington’s Maggie Miller set the tone in the semifinals with a goal just two minutes into the contest for a 1-0 lead. McGee then gave the Warriors a 2-0 halftime lead with a goal and Kaelee Van Gundy pushed the lead to 3-0 with a goal midway through the second half.
Weddington set up the semifinal matchup with Cox Mill with a thrilling win over South Iredell. The two teams were tied after regulation but the Warriors prevailed in a shootout.
With only five seniors on the roster and with a host of starters returning, Weddington will again be a favorite entering the 2018 season.
“These girls expect to win,” Williams said. “They expect to get to the championship game.”