Warriors hope depth will lead to state title

When the Weddington girls’ soccer team rolled over Marvin Ridge, 7-2, on May 2, it proved just what they were hoping – that they’re peaking at the right time.

Freshmen Olivia Odle, senior Chandler Arrowood and sophomore Maggie Wadsworth hope their unique combination of talent and experience will lead to a state title.

Freshmen Olivia Odle, senior Chandler Arrowood and sophomore Maggie Wadsworth hope their unique combination of talent and experience will lead to a state title.

When the two Union County rivals met for the first time on April 1, Weddington narrowly escaped with a 1-0 win. But things changed for the resilient Warriors and with two goals apiece from senior midfielder Virginia Lingo and sophomore forward Maggie Wadsworth, combined with goals from Chandler Arrowood, Danielle DeLuca and Olivia Odle, the Warriors’ made it clear they’re in it for the long haul.

That’s the attitude they’ve had all season, helping them to a 16-2-1 record where they’ve sat atop Eurosportscorecard.com’s Class 3A rankings all year, climbing as high as No. 2. They’re a team on a mission, seeking to prove they can finish what they started last season.

The 2013 Warriors started a little shaky, opening their season 3-2-1, but they hit their stride by midseason. Weddington won the conference and went on a 10-game winning streak before falling to Charlotte Catholic in the fourth round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3A playoffs.

Now, they’re using that as ammunition for a team that returned most of their starters and added five freshmen and five sophomores to the roster – most of who play for the Elite Clubs National Team.

“Coach (Powell) Williams expects a lot from us, and he expects us to win,” said Wadsworth, who leads the Warriors with 26 goals. “Last year we really thought that we were going to win it all but we fell short against Catholic. This year, we’re coming back with that same desire to win and we know it’s something we can
do.”

It’s not unusual for a loss to fuel a team’s desire to win in the playoffs, but what makes the Warrior team of this year special isn’t their deep run at the title from last season, their impressive record from this year or their back-to-back conference titles. It’s the composition of their team with more underclassmen than upperclassmen that’s catapulted them to the top.

“This group is really special,” said senior forward Arrowood, who is the Warriors’ captain, a Western Carolina commit and has scored 23 goals and has 23 assists this year. “We have a lot of strong individuals and top-notch national players. We have amazing talent from freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. We’re all contributing up and down the roster, which is really unique and when we have players come off the bench, we know they can perform, too. Every single person on this team is
talented.”

Freshmen defenders Cyan Mercer and Gabby Cormier combined with midfielders Caroline Horne, Grace Lingo and Odle who has 18 goals and 13 assists have made a big splash on the varsity team this year. Pair them with senior all-state selections Arrowood and Virginia Lingo (a Charlotte 49ers commit who has 12 goals) and sophomore stars like Wadsworth and Emily Hilliard, who has scored 14 goals, and you’ve got the makings of a state contender.

“This group of freshmen came in and most all of them play on ECNL,” Wadsworth said. “That makes a big difference and when you put them with the seniors like Chandler and Virginia, it really creates this unique chemistry that shows in the way we play.”

“These freshmen and sophomores are an easy group,” Arrowood said. “They do whatever you need them to and it’s been an honor to lead them and be their captain these last two years. They have high expectations for themselves and myself included.”

With team chemistry at an all-time high and a first-round playoff win under their belt after rolling past Hibriten, 9-0, on May 13, the Warriors are one step closer to reaching their ultimate goal of winning the state title.

“There’s no turning back now,” Odle said. “We need a win every single game and there’s no room for error. It’s starting to get more intense but we’re not stressing about it because we trust in each other and in our talent and in the senior leadership.”

Arrowood said that she’s fully aware she’ll be playing her last game of high school soccer soon, and wants to leave the field with no regrets to help continue to spur the Warrior soccer program in a winning
direction.

“I want to leave it all on the field and show the underclassmen that we’re Warriors for a reason,” she said. “We come out here and leave everything on the field because that’s what a Warrior does. We fight and play our hardest every single game. That’s what I want to leave behind as my legacy – as someone who gave it her all every
game.”

The Warriors will play the winner of the Asheville/North Henderson game in the second round of the tournament on Saturday,
May 17.

 

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