South Charlotte

Seniors led Latin field hockey to another title

The 10 seniors on the Charlotte Latin girls' field hockey team have been playing together since seventh grade. In that time, they've broken numerous school and state records.

As juniors, they won the school's first N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association championship.

This year, the Latin seniors - Callie Kennedy, Myers McGarry, Ann Baynard, Evy Royther, Mia Kane, Stephanie Coma, Isabel Steen, Caroline Kelly, Libby Lamb and Tyler Cooney - added to their legacy, winning a second-straight state title with a 4-0 shutout of Raleigh Ravenscroft, the same score and same team they beat last year.

"It was just as much fun this year if not more fun than it was last year," said goalkeeper McGarry, 17.

Kelly, Kennedy, Royther and Kane scored the goals for Latin and all but Kennedy also had an assist.

After going 21-0 last year to the school's first championship in 2010, the Hawks' (16-1) only lost one game this year to conference rival Providence Day. That loss may have been the most important game for the team.

"The loss was a low for our season, but I think it was the most important part of our season," said Royther, 17, a forward.

The Hawks were determined to win the championship last year after losing in the state final in 2009.

This year, said head coach Deb Savino, they came into the season a little overconfident.

"I think we slacked off for a little bit and then I think that's when they got that one loss and learned a tough lesson," said Savino. "That was a really complete turn-around in how they played with each other."

After the loss, the Hawks cruised into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed behind then undefeated No. 1 Ravenscroft. After beating Cape Fear Academy 6-0 in its first game, Latin played Providence Day again in the semifinals. The seniors said they were more excited for that game than any other they played all season.

The team "wanted to play them again (in the playoffs)," said Baynard, 17, a defender. "After losing, especially a game we shouldn't have lost, I think that it was that we wanted to prove, not only to them but to ourselves, that we could beat them and go on to win states."

Latin won the game 3-0 before beating Ravenscroft in the finals. The Hawks didn't give up a goal in the postseason and only allowed six shots. Royther, Kelly, Kennedy, Kane and Coma were selected to the all-state team. Those five with Steen and McGarry were all-conference.

The championship win was a fitting end for 10 careers that set the standard for Latin field hockey. Baynard, Kane, Kennedy and Royther all joined the varsity team as freshmen with the other six joining the varsity their sophomore year.

The seniors compiled a career record of 68-4, outscoring opponents 320-25 and recording 51 shutouts. Their team broke school records for most goals scored in a season (102 in 2010) and most shutouts in a season (16 in 2010 with McGarry in goal).

Kennedy, a forward, finished her career with the most goals in school and state history (77) and had the most career points in school history with 198 (goals count as two points, assists as one). She also broke the single season school records for goals (30) and points (78) this year.

Kane, a forward, has the most career assists in school history (55) and is the only Latin player to be named all-region in 2010 (the 2011 team has not been released). Royther (2009), Kane (2010) and Kennedy (2011) are tied with a school record 18 assists in one season.

"It's been great to watch," said Savino, who started coaching at Latin in 2008, the seniors' freshman year.

Kennedy, Royther and Kane have played on the same forward line for four years. An opposing coach told Savino, "Those three, they just were magic together."

The same is true with the defense, which has a "telepathic understanding," according to Steen.

"I think we all trust each other a lot and I think we realize we're very capable and everyone will usually do the job they need to do and will fill the role they need to fill," said Kelly, 17, a midfielder.

Savino said the last two goals of the state championship were "textbook," with crisp passes and perfect execution.

"I just know where they're going to be without even thinking," said Royther. "I can do a one-touch (pass) without even looking with complete faith that one of them is going to be there."

The four goals in the championship game characterized the players that scored them, the seniors said. Royther scored on a touch off a crossing pass from Kane, Kane a chip shot, Kennedy a tip in off a pass from Kelly and Kelly's a hard, driving shot.

It is hard for the seniors to decide which championship meant more. The first was an accomplishment, especially on their home field.

The second was during their senior season, the last game they would play together and, for most, the last game they would ever play. McGarry, Royther and Kelly said they will probably play Division III field hockey but haven't committed to a school.

For Savino, it was the last game with a senior class that set a high standard for Latin field hockey.

"They left a legacy for sure," said Savino. The Hawks will return three starters next year, juniors Becca Jones and Ellie Sheild and sophomore Sarah Berry.

McGarry said that while 10 players are leaving, 10 equally capable players will step up. And if they can win it next year, it will mean even more.

"I think it makes it sweeter for them if they win it next year because they show they can win it without us," said Kennedy.