The Lady Highlanders started off slow against Cherokee on Thursday at home with only 1-0 on the board in the first 20 min, but once Highlands got into their groove they began dropping bombs into the back of the net ending with a 9-0 final.
“After the first 20 minutes they sped it up and had 4-0 by the end of the first half,” said Highlands Head Coach Jeff Weller. “Then they just ran away with it.”
The victory was bitter sweet as Highlands said goodbye to seniors Betty Garcia and Grace Crowe at what was potentially the last home game of their high school-soccer career.
Weller said both were leaders on and off the field in different ways. He said Garcia is commonly known as the team mom.
“She’s the mom for this team and any other teams she’s on,” said Weller. “She’s that way for everybody. It’s who she is, she’s there for the girls on and off the field.”
Garcia made her presence known on the field on Thursday raining shots down on Cherokee’s goalie consistently throughout the second half. After the game, Garcia looked back on her four years playing as a Lady Highlander and said it was bittersweet.
“It’s been incredible,” she said. “We had a bunch of new players this year and we all became a family. We look after each other, they’re part of your everyday life; it’s such an honor to play here.”
Garcia added playing for Highlands has shaped her into the person she is today.
“I wouldn’t be the same person without the people in this wonderful small town,” she said.
Crowe started as the team’s goalie for three years but was unable to play her senior year because of a miscommunication of player requirements. That being the case, Crowe decided to take on the role of team manager and support her teammates as best she could.
“It was fun looking at it from a different perspective,” said Crowe. “It helps me see where I can help most because I’ve been there, and now I can be there for them. But I really miss playing.”
Highlands next plays at 6 p.m. at home on Tuesday against Elkin in the first game of Regionals.