High School Sports

This season’s finest: South Iredell’s Julia Knapp kicks her way onto football team

Julia Knapp, South Iredell Football, at left, kicking the football.
Julia Knapp, South Iredell Football, at left, kicking the football.

Julia Knapp, South Iredell Football: Julia Knapp has scored big goals and points for the South Iredell girls’ soccer and basketball teams.

But when the 5-foot-9, South Iredell senior kicked two extra points in the first football game as the Vikings beat Rocky River 21-14 on Aug. 18, Knapp experienced “a feeling she’s never had before.”

Knapp, 17, a Mooresville native, was even better Aug 25, going 4-for-4 on extra points in a 56-14 victory at West Iredell.

“I just remember have a big smile on my face right after I made the first kick (against Rocky River),” said Knapp, a two-time all-region, all-conference center midfielder on the South Iredell soccer team and a center/forward on the Vikings’ girls’ basketball team. “The (South Iredell football coaches) told me to just keep my head down and they will tell me if I made the kick. As I looked up and saw (South Iredell’s) Trey Page (holder) and Ethan Little (long snapper) reaching out to give me a high-five and I heard the crowd cheer, I knew then I had made the kick. It was a great feeling, something I’ve never felt before, in front of so many people. It felt great to contribute to the team.”

Knapp grew up watching Carolina Panthers’ football with her father, Rob, while also playing the sport with neighbors, Nick and Jake DaCosta, who both play baseball at Mooresville High.

While she talked about playing football, her mother, Susan, wouldn’t allow her to play the sport.

“We were out for dinner on Julia’s birthday this year, when somehow we started talking about football,” Rob Knapp, Julia’s father said. “That night her mom (Susan) said ‘I don’t want to stand in her your way, if you want to play football your senior year, then go for it.’”

Knapp quickly met with South Iredell football coach, Scott Miller, to ask if she could try out for the team.

Coach Miller had a seen her play basketball and soccer before, but could tell she was serious about playing football from the start.

“Julia (Knapp) takes everything she does very seriously and does everything that everyone else on our football team does, including hitting drills and lifting weights,” said Miller, who is 72-21 in his first seven years as the South Iredell football coach. “She just has a different locker room. …

“I’m so used to addressing the team, ‘OK, gentlemen,’ now I just have to remember to say ‘and lady.’”

Knapp says she has learned a lot from her fellow kickers; senior Josh Wingler, junior Beni Juarez, and sophomore David Moyer, have also seen time at the kicker position.

Knapp says her goal is improve each week and she has seen progress, recently hitting a field goal from 40 yards in practice. Her main goal is just to help South Iredell (2-0) keep winning games.

Knapp won’t play sports in college; she boasts a 5.16 grade-point average in the classroom and hopes to attend the UNC-Chapel Hill.

While she’s going to enjoy the rest her senior year from the basketball court to the soccer field, she is relishing every minute of her first and only football season.

Knapp is making history as the first female to score a point for the South Iredell team in school history.

“At first, I didn’t even know if I’d go through with playing football, it was kind of a joke,” Knapp said. “But once I got over worrying about what other people thought, I realized I could make a difference for this (football) team. I knew I had to do it. ...

“Playing on the (South Iredell) football team has been a dream come true.”

Olivia Archer, Lake Norman Charter Girls’ Tennis: Lake Norman Charter senior, Olivia Archer, led the Knights to two big road wins last week with 5-4 victory at Hough on Aug. 21, followed by a 7-2 triumph at Providence Day on Aug. 24.

Archer won all four matches this week (two singles, two doubles) to help the Lake Norman Charter girls’ tennis team to their 54th straight victory (match), which includes the last three, 2A state championships. Archer is 106-1 in her singles’ career.

Archer spent the first part of this month training with international competition at the world-renowned, Chris Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla.

Rose Kenny, Charlotte Catholic Girls’ Tennis: The Charlotte Catholic sophomore has impressed this season, going unbeaten (4-0) in singles’ play with three-set wins over Myers Park’s Katie Weber and Cardinal Gibbons’ Jenna Knors already.

Kenny led the Catholic (2-2) 9-0 wins at Piedmont on Aug. 22 and at Cuthbertson on Aug. 24, last week, winning all four matches (singles/doubles).

Kenny was undefeated at No. 2 singles last season and was on the 4A state doubles’ state runner-up team with former teammate, Megan Leonard.

Jordan Besh, Cannon School Girls’ Golf: The Cannon School senior is off great start this season at 9-1 overall, including 7-1 in singles’ play at the No. 1 spot (singles).

Besh went undefeated in the Florence (S.C.) Tennis Association High School Tournament last Aug. 18-19, before leading her Cannon School team (4-3) to wins over SouthLake Christian on Aug. 23 and Gaston Christian on Aug. 24.

Besh excels on the tennis court despite suffering from Multi-Focal Dystonia, a neuro-muscular disorder that locks up her muscles, according to Coach Justin Fainter.

Brooke Murphy, SouthLake Christian Girls’ Tennis: The SouthLake Christian 8th-grader won all three of her singles’ matches last week, helping the Eagles to wins over Forsyth Country Day on Aug. 22, and Christ the King on Aug. 25.

But the highlight of Murphy’s week came in a 5-4 loss to Cannon School, where the 13-year old, varsity standout beat Besh in a dramatic, three set match, winning 6-4, 2-6, 10-8.

SouthLake Christian is 3-2 this season.

Amanda Sambach, Cannon School Girls’ Golf: The Cannon School freshman had a stellar week in her first week of high school.

Sambach shot an even-par, 36, to lead the Cougars in their season opener against Charlotte Latin at River Run Country Club (her home course).

Then, Sambach won her third consecutive junior tournament, shooting a four-under-par, 68, in the final round to win the Joe Cheves Invitational at Mimosa Hills Country Club in Morganton.

Sambach, from Davidson, birdied No. 12, 14, 16 and 18 to win the Joe Cheves Invitational by one shot. Cannon School teammate, Sophie Holland, finished 3rd-place at the same event.

Carly Kline, Davidson Day Girls’ Golf: The Davidson Day senior had a moment she will never forget when she aced the 151-yard par-three, No. 13 at Pine Island Country Club in an Aug. 22 match.

Cline shot a 41 on her nine hole the same day to finish fourth (individually) overall in the match with Carmel Christian, Charlotte Latin and Gaston Christian.

Patriots’ team, junior Ryann Sinclair, was the medalist (first-place) for all teams in the same match, firing a 38.

Nicolas Sosa, Providence Soccer Coach/Team: First-year, Providence soccer coach, Nicolas Sosa has helped his Panther team to a hot start at 3-0-1, despite returning only two starters from last year’s team.

Sosa and Providence had a big week, beating East Mecklenburg (3-2) on Aug. 22, Charlotte Latin (3-1) on Aug. 24 and tying Charlotte Country Day 0-0 on Aug. 26.

The Panthers were led by senior, center midfielder, Clement Akerblom, who has two goals and four assists this season.

Coach Sosa was a former West Charlotte and South Mecklenburg soccer standout, before being signed professionally out of high school by Club Nacional in Uruguay, the club international star, Luis Suarez once also played.

Sosa’s older brother, Fernando Sosa, now a Providence assistant coach, was an All-American at Garinger and for the Charlotte 49ers, where he still holds the all-time leading scoring record.

Stuart Windell, Charlotte Country Day Soccer: The Charlotte Country Day co-captain scored the game-winning goal in the 68th-minute of a 1-0 victory at Lake Norman Charter on Aug. 23.

Windell also helped the Bucs (2-0-2) to a strong result in a 0-0 tie with Providence on Aug. 26.

Jake McMillen, Pine Lake Prep Soccer: The Pine Lake Prep senior helped his Pride soccer team outscore their opponents 17-1 this week with five goals in two games.

McMillen had two goals in Pine Lake Prep’s 9-0 win over SouthLake Christian on Aug. 22, before coming back with a hat trick in his team’s 8-1 victory versus West Iredell two days later.

McMillen has seven goals for the unbeaten, Pride (3-0) this season.

Scott Okel, Charlotte Latin Soccer: The Charlotte Latin goalkeeper had a career-best 17 saves in the Hawks’ first win of the season, a 3-0 win over Butler (2-1) on Aug. 26.

Okel now has 49 saves in the first five games for Charlotte Latin (1-3-1).

Sienna Joseph, Charlotte Country Day Field Hockey: The Charlotte Country Day junior had a big week in goal for the Bucs’ field hockey team with 16 saves in two games.

Joseph had two saves and recorded a shutout in a 9-0 win over Christ Church on Aug. 22.

Two days later, Joseph recorded 14 saves in hard-fought 3-1 loss to defending NCFHA state champion, Myers Park.

Joseph had allowed on four goals in three games for Charlotte Country Day (1-1-1) this season.

Noah Dolhare, Providence Day Cross Country: The Providence Day senior had a strong start to his season finishing 5th-place, running a 16:26.40, in a loaded field at the WNC Cross Country Carnival at Jackson Park in Hendersonville.

Dolhare is the two-time, defending CISAA conference cross country champion, who has also finished 3rd in the state (NCISAA 3A) the last two years.

Myers Park Girls’ Tennis Team: The defending 4A state champion, Myers Park girls’ tennis team (21-0 last year) is off to another perfect start this season at 5-0.

Coach Ed Flynn and Mustangs had an impressive first week of play, winning four matches in three days, beating Ardrey Kell in their opener on Aug. 17, before sweeping through Cardinal Gibbons, Charlotte Catholic and Page Highs to win the Cardinal Gibbons’ Invitational on Aug. 19.

Flynn says his team got strong play through the lineup with senior, No. 5 singles’ Catie Holhouser, freshman, No. 6 singles, Elyse Duley and the No. 3 doubles’ team of Elisabeth Drake and Duley going undefeated.

Myers Park, who has won 26 matches in a row now, also rolled to a 9-0 victory at Rocky River on Aug. 24.

Katherine Pon-Cooper, Mallard Creek Volleyball: The Mallard Creek sophomore also had a big moment on Aug. 22, when she was recognized for 1,000th-career assist at her team’s 3-0 win over Berry Academy. She received a golden volleyball from Mavericks’ coach, David Brooks, for her accomplishment.

Pon-Cooper, who already owns the school record for assists, accomplished the feat during the Best of the Carolinas tournament at Davidson College on Aug. 19.

Pon-Cooper, who has 177 assists this season, has helped Mallard Creek to a 5-2 start this season.

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


This season’s finest highlights high school athletes with outstanding performances. Information published today includes statistics through Aug. 27. 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.

Want more South Charlotte News?

To receive a weekly email of stories from Ballantyne, Cotswold, Matthews, Mint Hill, Pineville and SouthPark, go to http://signup.epiodata.com/subscription-management/CharlotteObserver/index.html. Choose “South Charlotte Community News - Weekly news from around South Charlotte”. The newsletter email is sent Wednesday afternoon.

Want more Lake Norman News?

To receive a weekly email of stories from Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville and Mooresville, go to http://signup.epiodata.com/subscription-management/CharlotteObserver/index.html. Choose “Lake Norman Community News - Weekly news from around the lake”. The newsletter email is sent Wednesday afternoon.