WINSTON-SALEM - The South Region team bounced back from an opening-round loss to capture the bronze medal at the Powerade State Games of North Carolina at W. Dennie Spry Stadium on the campus of Wake Forest University.
Featuring Elkin native Maggie Walker and Forbush stars Maddi Morsch and Haley Lindsay, the South topped the West squad 5-2 in Sunday’s third-place match.
“[Playing in the State Games] was a lot of fun, even though we didn’t win,” Walker explained. “It was still a good time. I made a lot of friends with the girls on my team.”
In Game 1, the South battled a tough East side on Saturday.
The East jumped out to a quick 3-0 advantage, with all three goals coming in the first half of the opening 40 minutes.
After falling behind, the South managed two scoring opportunities before the intermission, with one shot careening off the crossbar.
Four minutes into the second half, the East found the back of the net again to extend its lead out to 4-0.
While struggling to find open shots, Lindsay broke free on a breakaway chance midway through the second, but was turned away by the East keeper.
The South had two more opportunities to break up the shutout down the stretch, but a corner kick and a header in the box were blocked as the East advanced to the title game, sending the South to the consolation match.
In the other opening-round game of the tournament, the North girls topped the West 3-2 on penalty kicks. North edged the PK’s 7-6 to punch their ticket to the gold-medal game, setting up a South/West showdown for the final medal.
In a back-and-forth bronze medal match, the South and West traded goals to open the game. The South got on the board first, but saw the West tie the game less than five minutes later.
After the West tacked on another goal, Walker brought things even again at 2-2 when she knocked in a rebound in the box to complete one of her goals coming into the State Games.
“I think I got lucky on that goal - just right place at the right time,” she explained. “I was really excited to be able to score. That was one of my goals coming in.”
The South had three more scoring chances in the final minutes of the first half, but were unable to find the back of the net in the box, sending the game knotted at 2-2 at halftime.
Coming out of the intermission, the South struck quickly to take a 3-2 advantage. Despite taking the lead, they kept their foot on the pedal with six more opportunities before finding the back of the net midway through the second half to push the lead to 4-2.
The South added an insurance goal on a free kick from outside the box to secure the bronze medal with a bounce-back 5-2 victory.
In the first-place match, the East raced to the gold medal with a dominating 6-1 victory over the North.
With the conclusion of the State Games, Walker and other high school players will turn their attention to club teams around the state. Walker will suit up for Yadkin Soccer Association.
“Now I’m just getting ready for club soccer,” she said. “Hopefully I’ll make the team next year and maybe we’ll be able to do a little better. But at least we didn’t get last.”
Further down the road, Walker said she is gearing up for the chance to playing soccer at the next level, with her dream school being Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to go to some ID camps this summer and talk to some coaches,” she said. “I still need to send out some resumes. But anywhere I can play I think I’ll be happy. If I don’t, I can still play intramural or club in college.”
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.