The Mallard Creek girls' soccer team is poised to finish second in the conference, but the next few weeks will go a long way in determining how its season is remembered and how they finish the year.
They stand in second place in the I-Meck 4 behind Hough, who leads the league and is 10-1 in conference play, 15-2 overall and ranked fourth in the Observer's Sweet 16.
The Mavericks, who are 10-3-4 overall and 7-3-1 in conference, lead Hopewell by a half game in the standings as they come out of spring break.
They have been up and down throughout the year, but seem to be up recently. Mallard Creek won its last two games and is 6-2-1 over their last nine.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
The last five games will determine how they finish, but none will be easy. The Mavericks have four of their five remaining games on the road, where they are 4-1-3 on the year, including games at Hough and Hopewell.
Mallard Creek defeated Hopewell 2-0 but lost 4-1 to Hough in earlier match-ups, both at home. The Mavericks seem to have put it all together since then, and have a shot to close out the year and make a statement to the rest of the conference by beating both teams.
Other than the Hough loss, the Mavericks have lost one other time in their past 11 games dating back to March 15 against Lake Norman.
Mallard Creek is led up front by the high-scoring duo of Emma De Neef and Sara Webber who both have scored 10 goals each. De Neef leads the team with seven assists while Webber has four.
Erin Schneider, who has five goals, and Allie Gartland and Kelsey Manning, who both have scored three goals, are key members of the offense with four assists each
The offense averages more than three goals per game, but the defense is what separates the Mavericks attack.
Mallard Creek has allowed more than two goals only twice on the year and have outscored its opponents 52-13.
To wrap up as the No. 2 seed in the conference, they will have to defeat Hopewell and win at least two more games on the road.
If they are able to knock off their rivals they could position themselves as one of the better teams in the region.