Undefeated Lady Highlanders take first loss in state tournament

The Lady Highlanders varsity soccer team went undefeated throughout the regular season and clinched the Smoky Mountain Conference 1-A championship and a spot in the state tourney.

Highlands Anne Marie Moore moves in front of a shot on goal against Lincolnton.

Highlands Athletic Director Brett Lamb said no Highlands team has ever gone undefeated throughout the regular season and Highlands has not won a conference title since 2007.

Highlands Hayley Borino works to center the ball as fog drifted on and off the field throughout the game.

However, Highlands triumphant reign came to an end on May 3 at home against Lincoln Charter on semi-foggy evening in the first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state tournament with a final of 4-0.

Highlands Julia May Schmitt works to get clear to send the ball up to the offense.

Highlands Coach Caleb Brown said he was proud the girls made it to the state tournament as only one slot is guaranteed from each conference that goes to first place, second place is a wild card.

Highlands Maddie Drummonds on a fast break against Lincolnton during the first round of state playoffs.

“They performed well against a strong team from one of the best conferences in the state,” said Brown. “We had our chances, and it just didn’t go our way.”

Highlands Brandy Zagal checks out her options before centering the ball. Zagal is also pictured at the top of the article.

Brown said Lincoln passed well and were very effective moving the ball, combined with two incredibly fast Lincoln forwards and it was difficult to shut down, but the Lady Highlanders never gave up.

Highlands Caroline Woods attacks the ball against Lincolnton at home.

“They never quit, they gave it their all and I couldn’t be more proud,” said Brown.

Highlands Reese Schmitt sets up to hook around and take a shot on Lincolnton’s goal.

Brown said he didn’t know what to expect when the season began, but the girls worked hard and it showed on the field.

Highlands Addie Westendorf works for control of the ball against Lincolnton.

“I had no idea what was going to happen and then they came out and crushed it all season,” he said. “They grew closer as a team, gave it their all, and made it work. I’m very proud of them.”

Highlands Kaitlin Doerter stays with her mark against Lincolnton at home.

Highlands Alyson Dayton sends the ball up to the offense against Lincolnton.

Highlands Mac Woods races a Lincolnton player for the ball at home.

Highlands Abbie Doerter doesn’t mess around and kicks the ball out of the hot zone.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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