The Providence Day girls soccer team made sure that their last game of the 2014 season was one for the books.
After going 16-0-3 this season, the Chargers earned their biggest win when it was most important – in the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association Class 3A state championship game on May 16, where they throttled Cary Academy with three unanswered goals to take their second consecutive state title – the first two in school history.
Midfielder Morgan Mosack led the Chargers with two goals, scoring her first in the 15th minute off a corner kick by junior Cameron Jones. Her second goal came from a free kick shortly into the second half after Zina Kalu was brought down. Freshman Madeline Marks delivered the Chargers third goal from a corner kick to give them a 3-0 lead and win.
Second-year coach Dan Dudley said that winning the state title for the second year in a row was the icing on the cake after a season that many predicted wouldn’t pan out the way it did.
“Last year, we flew under everyone’s radar and kind of surprised everyone,” he said. “Going into this year, the consensus outside the program was that we were one-and-done. To be honest, I thought it was going to be difficult to repeat a conference championship, let alone a state championship….but we took it game by game to get here.”
Despite their reputation as a prolific scoring team behind all-state selections Mosack and Lauren Lucas, the hallmark of this year’s team has been their defense, which only conceded five goals all season and recorded 15 shutouts.
“We went into the preseason with a No. 1 ranking and a lot of that had to do with last year,” Dudley said. “But we set out to win the conference and did that without giving up a goal. A lot of that has to do with our outstanding defense.
“We had 14 or 15 different players score, which is fantastic and it really shows the depth of this roster and this team. To do what we did is an amazing achievement and has a lot to do with confidence. Last year was a huge confidence booster and this year, we came out and surprised people.”
The Chargers have now gone 32 games since their last defeat behind a defense anchored by three-sport senior Emma Pixley. Pixley, the Chargers’ goalie, has now won eight separate state titles in soccer, basketball and tennis.
“She’s just an athlete,” Dudley said. “She has safe hands, she’s dynamic and she was pivotal in the goal.”
In front of Pixley were center backs Camille Appleby and Caroline Smith and outside backs Dani Brown and Isabel Rogers who consistently stifled the opponents’ best offensive attacks. All but Smith will return next season.
With a team that averaged 3.33 goals per game this year and defeated some of the most dynamic teams in the state including Charlotte Latin (twice), Durham Academy and Cannon (three times), it’s easy to see why the Chargers finished as the No. 16 team in the nation according to the National Soccer Coaches’ Association of America.
And Dudley said that his players deserve all of the credit and glory after a perfect season.
“After last year, we set the bar pretty high,” he said. “The expectation coming into this year was out the roof. Each week I wanted to make sure that it was difficult for teams to beat us. The girls’ attitude, confidence and application of what they’ve learned has set the precedent moving forward for any young female Charger that wants to be a part of this team.
“When I first started coaching here, I took the girls into the gym and said, ‘How many women’s state soccer banners can you see?’ There wasn’t one. Now, within two years we have two championships and the girls deserve all the credit. People are talking about us around the state and around the nation.”