PILOT MOUNTAIN — For the last four years, Mary Jo Lowe has been more or less like any other high school student in the area. At least until she steps on a soccer field.
When it comes to the black-and-white roundball, there’s been no one more impactful. Lowe’s career at East Surry High School has seen the Lady Cardinals capture a conference championship in 2015, then follow it up with the longest state playoff run in the school history last spring. Lowe is already the all-time leading goal scorer in East Surry history, male or female, and still has one season left in which to add to that record.
The only thing she might have to worry about are state game wardens, because Bear hunting officially ends in North Carolina on the day after the New Year, but Lowe has been known to take them down well out of season.
“It’s like a hobby, I guess,” Lowe laughed when asked about her propensity for having big games against Mount Airy. “I think the best game I ever had was against them my freshman year. It was senior night and I scored three goals.”
Going into her senior season, Lowe has never lost a match against the Lady Bears, who came closest in another match her freshman year, which ended in a 3-2 East Surry overtime win, and on Mount Airy’s own senior night last spring. In that one, Lowe spoiled the occasion with a game-winning goal in the 78th minute for an identical 3-2 victory.
Lowe’s final season to go after Bears, Eagles, Hounds and other assorted Villains will kick off in less than two weeks, but that won’t be the end of her soccer career. Her on-field performance has long attracted the attention of college scouts, and on Thursday afternoon, she announced her commitment to join the Greensboro College Pride after graduation. She will become the first Lady Cardinal to ever play collegiate soccer.
“I considered another small school in Virginia,” she said, “(but Greensboro) is close to home and I really liked the small-school atmosphere. I went there and met the coach and team, and they were all really nice. I liked them.”
Greensboro is a member of the USA South Conference and competes against several other colleges and small universities from Virginia and the Carolinas. The Pride posted a 10-7-3 overall record in the 2016 season, despite counting 17 freshmen and sophomores among the 25 on its roster.
Lowe mostly plays at the striker position for East Surry, but possesses the skill and athleticism to play basically anywhere on the field, and Lowe said that Greensboro coach Gus Mota is likely to deploy her accordingly.
“(Mota) said he could use me in a bunch of positions. He likes how I can play midfield and offense,” she said.
However, before suiting up in Greensboro green, Lowe has one more season in Cardinal red ahead of her. Last year, the Lady Cardinals couldn’t match their 2015 feat of sharing the Northwest Conference crown with powerhouse Bishop McGuinness, but after finishing second in the league, they won two state playoff games and became the first East Surry soccer team to ever reach the state quarterfinals. They hope to better that in Lowe’s senior year.
“I’m very excited. We should be pretty good this year,” she said. “This year, we want to get farther than we did last year.”
East Surry begins its 2017 season on Thursday, Feb. 23 at home against Parkland.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.