Heritage girls soccer team captain Hayley Boyles knew the thrill of advancing to the post-season’s third round two years ago for the first time in her school’s young history. But last season the Huskies suffered the agony of a second-round exit.
Boyles and her older teammates are back to feeling on top after beating Millbrook 1-0 in the fourth round of the NCHSAA 4A girls soccer tournament on Wednesday night at Husky Stadium.
“It means everything,” Boyles said of extending the record for the longest season of a school that opened in 2010. “We wanted this to be the best year we’ve ever had, so we’re excited about that.”
The third-seeded Huskies (17-3) travel next to No. 2 seed Leesville Road (22-0-1) for their fourth-round match on Saturday at The Pride’s field. Millbrook, seeded No. 11, finished with a 12-7-1 record after losing four of its first seven matches.
One of those early season losses was 5-2 to Heritage, with the Huskies scoring three first-half goals. But this time around Heritage met an improved opponent.
The game appeared to be winding down to scoreless regulation with overtime sessions until Heritage sophomore Mackenzie Libscomb struck on a bang-bang play with 14:21 remaining in the match.
The ball was just inside Heritage’s half of the field when junior Olivia Neal beat some traffic to pass the ball down the middle of the field. Libscomb was able to control the ball over a defender, turned and shot left to right for the score.
“I got the ball on my left foot, opened my body up to see the goal and kicked it as hard as I could,” said Libscomb, explaining she didn’t have time for a fake. “It all happened so fast.”
Lipscomb played despite her left wrist wrapped in a cast. She suffered torn tendons and a broken bone in Heritage’s second round win on Friday over Broughton, 2-0.
“I was worried about playing,” she said, “but I was able to practice yesterday and it felt good.”
Once Heritage took its lead, defenders Braelyn Francher, Nicole Cook and Reagan Meyer not only formed a strong wall, they cleared the ball with long kicks. On Millbrook’s best chance for a goal in the final four minutes, Heritage goalie Ariana Correa came out of goal to block a shot as she fell to the turf, but before a Millbrook player could connect on the rebound, Cook and Francher cleared the ball.
In a scoreless first half, Correa and Millbrook sophomore goalie Haile Desmarais both recorded saves in the final 10 minutes on close-range shots.
“It was the playoffs, so both teams had a lot of fight going into it,” Boyles said. “They were a better team than earlier in the year.”
No. 1 Hoggard 1, No.8 Laney 0
No. 20 Apex 2, No. 21 Apex Friendship 0
No. 3 Heritage 1, No. 11 Millbrook 0
No. 2 Leesville Road 2, No. 10 Fuquay-Varina 1
No. 1 D.H. Conley 1, No. 9 Chapel Hill 0
No. 4 Clayton 2, No. 4 Terry Sanford 0
No. 6 East Chapel Hill 1, No. 12 Northwood 0
No. 7 Jacksonville 3, No. 2 Union Pines 0
No. 1 Croatan 9, No. 8 Jordan-Matthews 0
No. 4 Clinton 8, No. 12 Wheatmore 0
No. 6 First Flight 7, No. 19 Richlands 1
No. 2 Carrboro 4, No. 23 Central Davidson 1
No. 1 Franklin Academy 6, No. 9 Bishop McGuinness 2
No. 12 Research Triangle 4, No. 4 Neuse Charter 1
No. 3 Raleigh Charter 6, No. 11 Princeton 0
No. 2 East Carteret 3, No. 10 Roxboro Community 1