South Charlotte

This season’s finest: Charlotte Latin goalkeepers scoring national attention

Claudia Dickey, Charlotte Latin Girls’ Soccer
Claudia Dickey, Charlotte Latin Girls’ Soccer St. John Photography

Claudia Dickey and Ruthie Jones, Charlotte Latin Girls’ Soccer: Charlotte Latin soccer coach Lee Horton will be the first to admit that he has a “good problem,” when deciding who will start in the next game for his Hawks’ team.

The Charlotte Latin girls’ soccer has two goalkeepers that play in their respective U.S. National Soccer team pools.

Latin junior Claudia Dickey is in the U.S. Soccer U18 team pool, while Hawks’ sophomore Ruthie Jones is in U.S. Soccer U17 team pool.

Both Charlotte Latin goalkeepers went to U.S. Soccer training camps recently.

Dickey trained with the U.S. U18 team in Chula Vista, Calif., from April 15 to 22, her second stint with the national squad.

Jones is doing the same thing with U.S. U17 team in northern Italy near Venice from April 19 to 30, her sixth camp with the national squad.

“I can’t imagine that any other high school team has ever had two goalkeepers on the same team in the national team (pool) at the same time,” said Horton, with a big laugh. “It’s an incredibly good problem to have. We know that either girl in goal is going to give us a great chance to win in any game.”

With both Dickey and Jones out of town last week, Horton had to call on his third goalkeeper in freshman Paige Nurkin last week. Nurkin didn’t miss a beat, posting shutouts of both Charlotte Christian (5-0) on April 18 and Cannon School (3-0) on April 20.

While some players might struggle with competition to start in goal, Dickey and Jones say they thrive off working with each other.

Charlotte Latin assistant coach Kyle Searles, a former Butler High and Belmont Abbey goalkeeper, has also been a huge key to their success, according to Horton.

“I am a better goalkeeper because I get to work with Claudia Dickey,” said Jones, who rides to and from school with Dickey each day. “In training or in games, I always want to be as good as Claudia or even better, if that’s possible. That has pushed me to be at my best and I hope she feels the same way.”

“I love working with Ruthie every day, because she makes me a much better player,” said Dickey, who plays holding center midfielder when Jones is in goal and has three goals and three assists this season. “This year, when Ruthie has played in the goal, honestly I think there are a lot of times where I can help more playing in the field.”

Charlotte Latin (12-1-1, 6-1) has been dominant for most of the season no matter who is in the goal.

Charlotte Latin has outscored their opponents 54-3.

However, their lone loss to rival, Providence Day on March 28 “might have been the best thing to happen to this team,” according to Horton.

“We never want to lose a game, but the loss against Providence Day was actually good for us, because they just outplayed us and they wanted it more than we did,” said Horton, noting the Charlotte Latin and Providence Day girls’ soccer teams have combined to win the last nine state championships. “The next day in practice, we talked about the loss and girls said all the right things. They knew that we had to better. To do that, we were going to have to work harder and do all the little things well. We’ve been a different team since then.”

Dickey, Jones and company’s immediate focus is now on winning their third straight, NCISAA 3A state championship.

But playing with their respective national teams recently, they can’t help but be excited about their futures in college soccer, too.

Dickey is committed to play for the University of North Carolina.

Jones hopes to make her college choice soon, with Duke, Clemson, Princeton, Stanford and Virginia among the schools recruiting most, according to Coach Horton.

While Dickey and Jones are living out their dreams on the soccer field, they know playing for the U.S. soccer team is “the opportunity of a lifetime.”

“It’s an amazing honor to represent you country, and I hope to keep playing for the (national) team for as long as I can,” Jones said.

“Playing for the national team is a once in a lifetime thing, and it’s an unbelievable feeling to represent your country,” Dickey said. “I want to take advantage of every opportunity I get to play for this team.”

Hough Girls’ Soccer Team: The Hough girls’ soccer team had a big week on and off the field.

The Huskies remained unbeaten (14-0-2) with victories over Mallard Creek on April 18, West Forsython April 21 and a tie with East Forsyth on April 22.

Hough has been dominant, outscoring their opponents 76-13 this season.

But the most important accomplishment of the week came off the field as the Hough girls’ soccer team helped raise more than $1,800 for pediatric cancer research in the sixth annual Cookies for Kids’ Cancer event on April 21-22, according to Husky soccer coach David Smith.

Elista Parks, North Mecklenburg Girls’ Soccer: The North Mecklenburg freshman forward continues to excel in her first varsity season as she had eight goals to lead the Vikings to three critical wins in three consecutive days.

Parks started her week with four goals in a 5-3 win over archrival Hopewell on April 18.

The next day, she had two scores in less than a half of play in a 9-0 win over West Mecklenburg.

Then on April 20, Parks scored both goals in North Meck’s (10-7-2, 4-4) 2-1 win over Lake Norman Charter.

Parks leads the MECKA 4A conference with 25 goals this season.

Emily Koch, Community School of Davidson Girls’ Soccer: The Community School of Davidson junior forward had eight goals last week to keep the Spartans rolling at 16-1 this season.

Koch had her best game with five goals and two assists in a 10-1 win over Mountain Island Charter on April 17.

Koch leads the Spartans, also 12-0 in SPC 1A conference play, with 24 goals this season.

Kate Duncan, Ardrey Kell Girls’ Soccer: The Ardrey Kell junior goalkeeper posted two more shutouts took keep the Knights at the top of the SoMeck8 conference standings.

Duncan shutout both Providence (0-0 tie) on April 18 and Berry (9-0) on April 21.

Duncan has nine shutouts this season, including saving a penalty kick in 1-0 win over Marvin Ridge.

Olivia Ficklin, Northside Christian Girls’ Soccer: The Northside Christian senior goalkeeper broke a school-record with her 10th shutout of the season in a 4-0 victory over Forest Hills, April 20.

Ficklin, who has 24 career shutouts, is quick to credit the Knights’ defense for her success in goal.

Ficklin has helped the Northside Christian (13-7) to their best season in school history.

Ficklin is also succeeding off the field; she is the student body president and is a “gifted actress and singer,” according to Northside Christian soccer coach Corey Thompson.

Charlotte Country Day Tennis Team: The Charlotte Country Day tennis team continues to dominate their opponents this season as they beat both Providence Day and Charlotte Christian last week to keep their perfect 13-0 record intact.

The Bucs have won 109 matches this season, while losing only five.

Charlotte Country Day, led by Coach Calvin Davis, has gotten big play from junior No. 1 Luke McClelland, senior No. 2 Maylin Van Cleeff and junior No. 3 Vaed Khurjekar at the top of the lineup.

The Bucs’ trio is a combined 36-1 in singles’ play and 37-2 in doubles’ play this season.

Bobby Shore/Graham Basquin, Ardrey Kell Tennis: The Ardrey Kell duo are two big reasons why the Knights are 15-1 so far this season.

Basquin and Shore, both senior co-captains, are a combined 34-7 in both singles’ and doubles’ play this season.

Basquin is 8-2 in singles play, while Shore is 8-1 in singles.

The Knights beat archrival South Mecklenburg 9-0 on April 20 to finish off a perfect SoMeck8 conference record this season (14-0).

Jake Johnson, Woodlawn School Track: The Woodlawn School senior broke three school records at a home meet on April 19.

Johnson notched three personal bests, including an 11.53 in the 100-meter dash, a 23.46 in the 200-meter dash and a 20-6 in the long jump.

Johnson hopes to walk on the team at St. Louis University this summer.

Lansdon Robbins, Cannon School Golf: The Cannon School junior shot a five-under par, 67, to finish as runner-up at the Pinecrest Invitational at Pinehurst No. 8 on April 19.

The Davidson native’s 67 was the best score of his high school career, and helped his Cannon School team to a seventh-place finish in the Pinecrest Invitational.

Noah Hall, Berry Baseball: The sophomore tossed a complete-game, no hitter with 12 strikeouts in an 11-0 win over Harding on April 18.

Hall also scored three runs and had a stolen base in the same game.

Hall is had 31 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched, while hitting .256 with 20 stolen bases this season.

Sydney Backstrom, Hopewell Softball: The Hopewell senior had another big week on the mound and at the plate to lead the Titans to three wins in four days.

Backstrom, who had 36 strikeouts on the week, tossed a complete game in each game to earn three victories over Mallard Creek, North Mecklenburg and Hough.

Backstrom, a Longwood University signee, also had four hits, including two home runs at the plate last week as the Titans (9-5, 8-2) moved into second-place in the MECKA 4A standings.

Backstrom is hitting .548 with seven home runs, while also 8-5 on the mound this season.

Sam Russ, Providence Day Softball: The Providence Day senior centerfielder has been a big part of the Chargers (8-7, 6-1) winning five of their last six games.

Russ led Providence Day to big wins over Charlotte Country Day and Covenant Day last week, hitting .611 with six stolen bases, eight runs scored, and seven RBI in the two games.

Russ, a N.C. State signee, is batting .617 with 31 runs and 36 stolen bases in 36 attempts this season.

Sydney Yoder, South Mecklenburg Softball: The South Mecklenburg sophomore catcher also had a big week leading her Sabres to two, key SoMeck8 conference victories.

Yoder went 5-for-11 with a home run and 5 RBI last week.

Yoder, an East Carolina signee, had the game-winning RBI in a 3-2 upset win at Olympic on April 21.

Yoder is batting .400 with two home runs, five doubles and 20 RBI this season.

Landon Shelley, Myers Park Girls’ Lacrosse: The Myers Park senior had a week to remember in the final two regular season games of her Mustang career.

Shelley, a Washington and Lee University signee, started her week with a goal, an assist and four draw controls as Myers Park (15-1) rolled to 18-1 win over South Mecklenburg on senior night. Each Mustang senior started and scored in the contest.

Two days later, Shelley came back with three goals and four draw controls in a 14-8 win over Charlotte Country Day in the “Battle for the Park.”

Kaitlyn Coleman, Butler Girls’ Lacrosse: The Butler sophomore midfielder continued her strong play with five goals and three assists last week.

Coleman had three goals and two assists in a tough 12-11 loss to Providence on March 18.

Coleman leads the Bulldogs (1-12) with 43 goals, seven assists, 70 groundballs, 14 interceptions, 65 takeaways and 65 draw controls this season.

Graham Mitchell, Charlotte Country Day Lacrosse: The Charlotte Country Day sophomore midfielder led the Bucs to an 11-4 victory over rival, Charlotte Christian on April 20.

Mitchell had two goals, two assists and collected 10 groundballs in the win.

Mitchell leads the Bucs (13-7) with 95 groundballs this season, while also scoring 10 goals and 14 assists to date.

Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: edwardswork23@gmail.com.

HELP US FIND THE ATHLETES

This season’s finest highlights high school athletes with outstanding performances. Information published today includes statistics through April 23. In most cases, the athletes featured will come from sports that don’t get a lot of recognition. However, the goal is to recognize excellence. If you want to suggest someone to be included in This Season’s Finest column, send email to Jay Edwards at edwardswork23@gmail.com. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.

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