by Ron Brown
Cuthbertson’s second-year girls soccer team to play for state title
With its 4-1 win over Yadkinville’s Forbush High on May 25, the Cuthbertson girls soccer team made it official: They are one of the best in the state.
The Cavaliers earned a trip to Cary’s WakeMed Soccer Park, where they will face Carrboro for the Class 2A state championship. The game is scheduled for Friday, May 27, at 5 p.m.
Against Forbush in the semifinals, the Cavs fell behind, 1-0, midway through the first half, but Leah Drawdy tied the game with six minutes left in the frame. Less than a minute later, Cuthbertson’s Bridgett Coomber added another goal to give the Cavs a 2-1 lead.
“That definitely gave us a confidence boost going into halftime,” said Cuthbertson coach Nelson Garner. “(The players have) worked so hard, and they wanted it so bad that I think they were playing not to lose, and that’ll get you beat against a team like (Forbush). You have to have confidence.”
The Cavs added second-half goals from Tiffany Walker and Alex Duty to seal the championship game appearance.
Cuthbertson, in only its second year of play, has quickly made its mark as a force in girls soccer. In 2010, without a single senior on their roster, the Cavs finished second to Piedmont in the Rocky River 1A/2A conference standings and lost by a 2-1 decision to Forbush in the state semifinals despite holding a 1-0 lead at halftime. For the season, the Cavs were 24-5.
Joining a new club wasn’t easy, said Drawdy, but the success helped the Cavs gel quickly.
“It was difficult at first coming here last year,” said Drawdy. “We were leaving friends who we grew up with and played sports with all of our lives. But we bonded as a group right away, and it showed with our play on the field. The entire group works hard, and we are friends off the field as well.”
Given the precocious start, Garner said, the Cavs didn’t shy away from establishing some lofty goals this season.
“Making it that far last year and knowing you have your whole team coming back, it was almost like the expectation had to be (to win a state championship),” Garner said.
This season, the Cavs didn’t disappoint. Cuthbertson won the Rocky River conference with a perfect 16-0 record and currently has an overall mark of 25-2. Garner said that the key factor to such early success has been his team’s willingness to work hard, along with an intense desire to reach the next level.
But the Cavaliers also can attribute their success to familiarity, as every player from last year’s team returned. Garner, in his seventh year coaching after spending five years at Piedmont, knows the importance of having a cohesive unit with his past experience being an all-state performer in both football and soccer at Burlington’s Williams High.
“This team has worked hard since Day 1 last year,” said Garner. “I would have been happy with something near a .500 record last season, and we went well beyond that goal. I have been so impressed with their hard work ethic and how they pick each other up and take to the leadership needed.”
The Cavs have been led by the outstanding play of their senior co-captain Drawdy, who tops the team with 57 goals. Drawdy, an Appalachian State University recruit, also has 11 assists. This season, she has earned several honors, including all-state, all-region and all-conference nods.
Megan Feranda has been a key contributor as well on the offensive side of the ball with 17 goals and 12 assists. Defensively, Jane Sosinski has been a force at keeper with 20 shutouts and 50 total saves, making it especially difficult for opposing teams to score on the Cavaliers.
But the Cavs will have their work cut out for them against Carrboro, which features two all-state seniors and a Clemson University recruit on its roster. Furthermore, Cuthbertson’s Drawdy (ankle) and Coomber (thigh) are hobbled with injuries, but Garner said, “I wouldn’t bet against them getting out there.”
If so, the duo will have a chance to complete a goal they set back in the fall.
“The girls pretty much set (a state title) as a goal way back in November when we started offseason conditioning,” Garner said. “They’ve stuck with it. We’ve had other goals in the process, including a conference championship, but that’s always been in the back of our minds.
“That’s where we ultimately want to finish, so it’s awesome to be one step away.”