There was no doubting the strength of the Northwest 1A Conference in girls’ soccer this spring. The league’s top two teams both reached the quarterfinals of the NCHSAA 1A state playoffs, and a third team won 15 matches and reached the second round before butting heads with the eventual state champs.
With that in mind, no one was surprised when the N.C. Soccer Coaches’ Association released its 1A All-Region team for Region 9, and the team was dominated by players from Bishop McGuinness, East Surry and Mount Airy.
Seven Villains joined five Lady Cardinals and five Lady Bears on the squad, which consisted of 22 players in total. Included on the roster were two of the state’s top goal-scorers, Mount Airy’s Baylee Greenwood and East Surry’s Mary Jo Lowe, along with a number of other standouts at every position on the field.
Lowe, a Greensboro College signee who ended her distinguished career with 101 career goals, led the Lady Cardinals to their best-ever finish in the state playoffs. East Surry was 4-7 at one point in the season, but then won nine straight matches to take second place in the conference and check off Mountain Island Charter, East Montgomery and Pine Lake Prep in the first three rounds of the playoffs. In the state quarterfinals for the first time ever, the Lady Cardinals lost 2-1 at Gray Stone Day on a goal in the final three minutes of play.
Joining Lowe on the All-District 9 team were classmate Maggie Collins, whose outstanding work in goal was crucial to East Surry’s late-season form. Collins shut out five consecutive opponents during the team’s run to the elite eight. Rounding out the Lady Cardinals’ contingent were midfielder Christina Chavez and defender Sophia Lowe, two of only four freshmen to make the team; and longtime defensive stalwart Laura Ruiz.
The Lady Bears were led by Greenwood, whose 66 goals ranked her second in the state this season. The sophomore was named as the conference Player of the Year, and she was also named state Player of the Week at one point in midseason. Four other Mount Airy players were named to the team, including seniors Jessica Bevard and Allie Sechrist and juniors Kora Ledezma and Nele Görres.
Bevard, Sechrist and Görres were the top three goal-scorers on the team after Greenwood, all scoring between 15 and 20 during the course of the season. All three were named to the team as midfielders. Although Görres was a junior by class standing, she is an exchange student from Spain and was honored along with her teammates on the Lady Bears’ Senior Day. Ledezma, who mostly played forward during her sophomore season in 2016, was able to be utilized more on the defensive end during 2017, in which role she had an excellent season, and still played enough of a role on the attack to collect seven goals and 11 assists.
Other than Bishop, East Surry and Mount Airy, the only team to place anyone on the All-Region team was Starmount. The Lady Rams were the top 1A team in the Mountain Valley 1A/2A and also placed five players on the team following a 15-win season that included a trip to the third round of the state playoffs.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.