By Pete Zamplas- Hendersonville soccer Lady Bearcats reached the 2A state semifinal/West Region final, before bowing out last week.
The Lady Cats had the longest team playoff run of any Henderson County high school this spring. They reached at least the fourth round for the third consecutive season, in which time they were 65-5-2.
This time, they went a step further by squashing Southpoint 3-0 on May 18. HHS outscored the first four playoff foes by a combined 19-2 (4.75-0.5), thanks largely to a 10-2 demolishing of Forest Hills in the opener. Next was a nail- biter — a 1-0 triumph over Owen.
T.C. Roberson made it to the 3A finals, falling 2-0 Saturday night in Raleigh. A game earlier, the Lady Rams won the region, in a 5-3 win with two goals in (non-sudden death) overtime. Both women’s programs are still looking for their first state titles ever, but came close this spring.
Hendersonville (23-1-1) in this season was the West Region 2A top seed, lasted undefeated longer (to the state semis/round five) than ever, and finally beat TCR in women’s varsity soccer game, HHS head coach Kayla Lindsey said. That triumph was 2-1, on April 26. HHS dropped its 2019 opener to TCR but, then won 17 in a row and finished 17-2-1 after a 21-2 mark in ’17. The first blemish on the ’19 record was from a 2-2 tie with Asheville on March 15.
Hendersonville’s finale was May 21, at home in round. Second-seeded Lake Norman Charter won. The Lady Knights (23-2) then lost the 2A title game for the second consecutive year. They fell to Carrboro Saturday in Raleigh, in a 5-4 shootout after a 1-1 deadlock. Lake Norman ousted HHS for the second playoffs in a row, after losing to HHS 3-1 in round three of ’17 in this burgeoning rivalry.
Hendersonville’s leading scorer Aubrey Bish, a strong 5-foot-9 sophomore, and quick freshman Annabelle Gmyrek scored consecutive goals as HHS led 2-1 early in the second half. Bish registered her 30th goal. Nikki Schedivy made both assists. Schedivy finished second on HHS with 26 goals this year. Ellie Bowen, a sophomore, also surpassed 20 goals with 23 as much firepower returns for next season.
Grymrek scored her fifth goal in 12 games. She scored the sole goal in the 1-0 shutout of Owen, in round three.
“We attacked. We challenged,” Coach Lindsey said of the Lady Bearcats all season long, including the finale. Lindsey starred for West Henderson then Brevard College, graduating from BC in 2010.
Though Lake Norman soon retook the lead at 3-2, the margin stayed at one goal until late. Insurance goals resulted in a 6-2 final score. Ayden Yates was half of Lake Norman’s offense, scoring three of the six goals. The Virginia Tech-bound junior scored both goals of the game versus HHS last year, when she scored over 40 goals. If the teams meet again in ’20, HHS again has to contend with her. Fans might carry “HHS Hates Yates!” signs.
If there is a rematch, HHS with 20-20 vision in ’20 will remember that the Knights’ last goal was on a penalty kick with no time left, to run up the score.
“It was a terribly called game,” Coach Lindsey said of officiating. “Blatant fouls by them were not called,” such as after Schedivy was mugged to the ground. In contrast, she said, HHS’ play was called much tighter. The coach pointed out that on a phantam foul call on HHS, the Knight player supposedly hit was seemed untouched before collapsing to the ground in an apparent “flop.” If there is a rematch in ’20, HHS will be extra determined to turn Lake Norman into flops.
When a Knight was ejected for committing an injury-inflicting foul, it was a small price for knocking out HHS star senior goalkeeper Cam Coggins. The score was close at 3-2, at the time. A Knight kicked Coggins in the face — with such velocity and impact, it knocked Coggins unconscious for several minutes. She was tended to on the field, during a 15-minute delay in the contest before reviving, then going onto a stretcher and to the hospital.
Coggins sustained a concussion, missed school for the next three days but doctors projected she could return Tuesday, principal Bobby Wilkins said.
Katie Parce, a junior, filled in at the net. They have been the team’s goalkeepers for three years, and Parce has a year remaining.
Coggins was crucial to Bearcat success. She had yielded merely one goal for every three games, before the finale. She is among merely four seniors on the 22-player squad — along with ace defender Maya Gash and midfielders Eden Hawkins (HHS’ top goal scorer in ’18, with 16) and Martha Smith.
Martha’s younger sister Miriam Smith, a sophomore, led HHS with 18 assists and a year ago scored six times in the first three playoff matches. Their father Jerry Smith is a City Council member, teaches at HHS, and was the soccer team’s field announcer.
Martha Smith told The Tribune after the game that the close-knit team is like “family. I’ll miss seeing the girls every day” at school, and at practices and games.