Northwood junior Rachel Stoner has a lot of responsibilities organizing the defensive backfield for the Chargers girls soccer team.
On Wednesday in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A playoffs, it was clear her teammates were paying attention.
Northwood, the No. 13 seed, nearly posted its 11th shutout of the year, prevailing 3-1 over visiting Hunt (No. 21).
The Chargers (14-5) will travel to Corinth Holders, the No. 5 seed, on Saturday for a second round matchup. Corinth Holders easily got past Lee County 9-0.
“Everyone on this team tries so hard,” said Stoner, who helped hold the Warriors scoreless until there were 11 minutes left in the game. “I just really appreciate how they respect and listen to me.”
The Chargers have held the opposition to just 17 goals this entire season.
After a scoreless first half, the Chargers scored their first goal twelve minutes into the second. Allison Poythress passed to senior Ariel Glosson, who scored from close range.
Northwood added their next two goals within 12 minutes. MacKenzie Kremer nearly scored but Hunt goalie Bryson Lee stopped it. Juliana Hubbard was on the spot and scored.
Kremer scored Northwood’s final goal after a corner kick had bounced back to her. The sophomore drilled a perfect kick that curled and found the back of the net.
“We try to play very controlled and disciplined,” said Northwood coach David Holub. “This was a tough, physical game and it did not disappoint. It was the first home playoff game since Northwood moved to 3A.”
Holub also praised his seniors, including Glosson, Ashley Harris and his “go to leader” Jessie Craig.
“I can’t say enough about these seniors, all of them. They provide leadership you dream about. Even tonight, when it was still scoreless, we put some of them in the game because we knew they would settle things down and help our younger players finish off the game.”
A pair of Hunt seniors teamed up to prevent the shutout. Goalie Bryson Lee came out and actually assisted Jesse Von Arx on the lone Warrior goal.
Lee recorded numerous saves and defensive standouts Morgan Loflin, Meagan Westbrook, Gaby Von Arx and Madison Bass did everything they could to keep the Warriors (11-9-2) in the game.
Loflin had a highlight play when she stopped Hubbard midway through the first half on a potential Northwood breakaway.
“We played a very good team tonight and they won most of those 50-50 balls,” said Hunt coach Jeff Nelson. “We had some opportunities but just couldn’t capitalize. These are a great bunch of girls and I’m very proud of them.”
The Warriors finished third in the Big East Conference, and played conference champ Rocky Mount tough both games.