Providence High girls’ soccer coach Nathan Williams has said he believes junior midfielder Molly McGarry is the best player in the Charlotte area.
McGarry certainly looked the part during Saturday’s N.C. 4A championship game at N.C. State with Apex’s Middle Creek High. McGarry scored the first goal in the Panthers’ 2-1 win and helped deliver the school’s first girls’ soccer state title in 19 years with a dominant, physical performance that often left Middle Creek coach Guy Coleman screaming out her number – 21– for the Mustangs to defend her better.
“She’s been exceptional on so many levels,” Williams said of McGarry. “She’s scored big goals in every big game we’ve played. To do that is a testament to the type player she is. She is dominating. She has a desire and she doesn’t get upset by pressure. It’s just a game to her.”
McGarry led the Panthers to a 25-1-1 record, a state championship and a national ranking in many of the polls. She finished the season with 19 goals, eight assists and is expected to be named the SoMeck 8 conference’ player of the year.
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Best of all, her teammates know they can count on her.
McGarry scored the Panthers’ first goal off a corner kick from teammate Mia Thillet, a sophomore defender.
“My heart was beating so bad before that shot,” Thillet said. “I knew we had to take advantage of every situation that presented itself. I took a deep breath and I spotted Molly. I said, ‘That’s where I’ve got to hit it. She’ll put it through.’ ”
Of course, Molly put it through. It’s what she did all season.
Saturday, she dominated the middle of the field, stopping Middle Creek possessions or extending Providence possessions with a deft series of elusive moves that often left defenders swiping at air.
“I do my best,” McGarry said afterward, clutching the championship’s MVP plaque. “And I think we were all motivated because we lost in this game last year. Last year, we were too excited and we didn’t play the best we could.”
Next year, McGarry will be one of 19 underclassmen to return to play for coach Williams and make a bid to reach the final round for a third straight season. Providence will graduate six seniors.
McGarry said she really likes her team’s chances in 2017, but – flashing a big smile – the UNC Wilmington recruit said she just wanted to enjoy Saturday’s big win.
“I’m a little tired,” she said, “but I feel so good.”
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr