Sisters help strengthen Cox Mill defense

Sisters Christine and Katie Fail have used their connection off the field to solidify the Cox Mill defense down the stretch.

Christine, a senior center back, was joined in the backline by her younger sister a month ago, when injuries forced Charger coach Susan Reed to put the junior at right back.

Reed said she's glad she took the chance to put Katie on defense. Alongside Christine, left back Jenna Siffringer and Mollie Calloway as a holding midfielder, Reed said Katie's addition strengthened the group.

"It became an unstoppable line," said Reed.

Katie, a natural midfield, had not played defense before, so she tapped into her sister's expertise to learn her new role.

"She gives me a lot of feedback - bad or good - and has no problem giving it to me," said Katie, who admits it was hard for her to hold back her instinct to attack. "She tells me exactly where to go. It helps so much having her there."

Even when Katie misses an assignment or a tackle, Christine is there to back her up.

"She always picks my head up," Katie said. "She's very encouraging."

Christine enjoys playing beside Katie because of the communication she has with her sister.

"She understands more of what I'm saying than somebody else," Christine said. "I've played with hundreds of girls before, but it's much easier with my sister back there."

The sisters spend a lot of time off the field together. Christine and Katie's rooms are across the hall from each other's, so they're able to traverse between the two when they need someone to talk to or to have one of their many movie nights.

Reed said chemistry is palpable from the hard-working Fails.

"They have a great relationship," said Reed. "I've never seen them fight or even be mean to each other."

The sisters have also helped Cox Mill's chemistry, singing, dancing and joking around to keep the team's mood light at practice and before games.

Christine, who has been playing soccer for 13 years, is the more aggressive of the duo. She looks to forcefully win all headers and tackles, while Katie is more of a technical player, using her speed to get an upper hand.

Katie said she started playing the game when she was 5, looking up to her older sister.

"She inspires me so much on the field," the 16-year-old said.

While the Fails have been playing soccer for more than a decade, this season marked the first time the two have played on the same squad. When Christine played at Northwest Cabarrus her sophomore season, Katie didn't go to the school, and last year Christine decided to run track instead of playing soccer with her sister.

Katie said she's cherished the opportunity to play with Christine, admitting that it'll be hard when she goes off to Carson Newman, where she'll continue her soccer career.

"I'm going to miss her so much," Katie said

The Chargers will also miss that chemistry.

With the sisters in the back line, the Chargers (19-3-1, 13-1 in the South Piedmont Conference) had yet to lose a game.

The defense has been dominant, keeping a Jay M. Robinson team that had defeated them earlier in the year 2-1 to just a few shots in a 3-0 win in late April. The Chargers, which won a share of the SPC title, also defeated the then-No. 3 team in 3A, West Rowan, to kick off the month.

"It's a great feeling that no one really gets through us," said Christine of her line.

The sisters are proud of how the Chargers, who are ranked No. 9 in the state in 3A, has played all year.

"Our season has progressed to something that has pretty much been fantastic," said Katie.

Christine agreed.

"It's awesome for a second-year school to win a conference championship," the 18-year-old said.

The girls' soccer title marked the first time Cox Mill has won a conference team championship.

Cox Mill won its first-round playoff game 3-0 against West Iredell and was slated to play Charlotte Catholic Saturday in the second round.

Christine said her team could go far into the playoffs before postseason play began.

"I really think we can make a statement by how far we go this year," she said.

Regardless of how the Chargers perform in the playoffs, they will be adding a new Fail sister to its program next year. Christine and Katie's younger sister, Jessica, a goalkeeper, will be a freshman at Cox Mill next year.

"We're hoping to keep the Fail legacy going for a while," said Christine.

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