South Charlotte

Hawks dominate this year - and will again

Charlotte Latin did it again.

A 2-1 come-from-behind win against Raleigh Ravenscroft has the Hawks back on top of the state rankings and the owner of their fourth consecutive NCHSAA 3A state girls' soccer championship.

For head coach Lee Horton, winning states has become almost commonplace. This is Horton's 14th overall state title at Latin and his seventh girls' title.

The Hawks finished the season 16-3. Charlotte Latin closed out last year as winner of eight of its last nine games and had to overcome adversity all season.

Latin, which climbed to No. 1 in the state public and private school rankings last year, lost seven seniors from that team. The Hawks were young, inexperienced and further decimated by the loss of three other players to injury during the season.

The Hawks, however, overcame those setbacks.

They had played Charlotte Country Day twice this year and lost both games 2-0 before defeating the Buccaneers 2-1 in the state semifinals. Ashley Finke scored both goals against Country Day.

The sophomore led the team with 44 goals but saved her best work for the final game.

The Hawks trailed Ravenscroft 1-0 going into halftime but came to life when the second half turned to crunch time. Cannon Clough, a freshman and the Hawks' second-leading scorer on the year, came up big with just 12 minutes to play. Clough, as she had done twice against Country Day, shot a well-timed cross to the goal, and Finke rifled a header to tie the score.

The dagger came eight minutes later as sophomore Amma Okwara out-fought Ravenscroft defenders for a cross from junior Callie Kennedy and found the back of the net with the clinching goal. Latin was able to play keepaway for the final four minutes to claim its fourth straight title.

Next season they have to be favored again.

Only two players, defenders Sophia Hilliard and Katherine Peters, will graduate. The rest of the team will be back, and with 12 freshmen and sophomores contributing to this title, Latin may be the team to beat for the next several years.

The Hawks have a great shot to return as state title contenders again.

Don't bet against them.