Prep Insider Blog

Fall athletes of week: West Charlotte soccer star sparks historic win

West Charlotte High soccer star Christian Cook led the Lions to a historic win last week.
West Charlotte High soccer star Christian Cook led the Lions to a historic win last week. Special to the Observer

Boys athletes of the week

Christian Cook, West Charlotte Soccer: Two years ago, West Charlotte did not even have a boys’ soccer program.

Last season, the Lions’ soccer team returned to the field for the first time since 2014, but were winless, going 0-20.

But, last Thursday (Aug. 23), the West Charlotte soccer team scored a major victory, when freshman Christian Cook scored all five goals in a 5-4 comeback home win over West Mecklenburg in their season opener. It was the first time the Lions had won in nearly five years. West Charlotte beat Rocky RIver 4-1 on Sept. 5, 2013.

“It felt great to get this victory for West Charlotte because a lot of the players were in elementary school when we last won a game,” Cook said. “Then, there were also multiple players from other countries that came to West Charlotte to play on a high school soccer team. Since, we (West Charlotte) didn’t have a team 2015 and 2016, they have really waited and waited for a moment like this one (the victory).”

Despite trailing 4-2 at halftime, first-year coach Ryan Copeland saw his Lions roar back with Cook tying the game at four with 11 minutes left, and netting the game-winner on an assist from West Charlotte senior Widson Guillaume seven minutes later.

“Honestly, a lot of our players didn’t know that this was West Charlotte’s first win in five years, because they were so young,” said Copeland, whose team is made up of three seniors, two sophomore and eight freshmen. “But when I talked to them about the significance of the win and what this (West Charlotte) soccer program had been through, a lot of jaws dropped and eyes widened.

“…Obviously for Carter (Cook) it was an amazing game to score five goals, especially as a freshman.”

While Cook, who also plays for the U15 Carolina Rapids’ club team, scored five goals in his first high school game, West Charlotte got contributions from through the lineup.

Seniors Guillaume, Roger Perez and freshman Selton Lowry played strong in the midfield, while senior goalkeeper Christopher Martin and freshman defender Edgar Morales, led the defense.

The West Charlotte victory is a win for the whole program as Copeland says interest in the Lions’ soccer team is growing rapidly. Copeland says West Charlotte will field a junior varsity team staring next week, “for the first time since anyone at the school he has talked to can remember.”

Copeland is no stranger to building a program as he built the middle school soccer team (program) from scratch at Thomasboro Academy (West Charlotte feeder) from 2015-2018.

Now, his West Charlotte soccer team is eager to build on their victory.

“Getting a win was great for the team,” Cook said. “I feel like winning that game is just a preview for what we might be able to accomplish the rest of the season.”

Myers Park Soccer team’s defense: The Myers Park defense has been stout so far this season, allowing just two goals in four victories.

The Mustangs back four defenders in junior center back, William Blair and Reid Bond, as well as senior left back Matt Hedrick, sophomore left back Liam Trosch and junior goalkeeper Jacob Hall have had “a fantastic collective effort on the defensive,” according to Myers Park soccer coach Bucky McCarley.

The back line is playing together as a group for the first time this season, with Blair, a three-year starter, being the only full-time starter returning.

Myers Park (4-0) has outscored their opponents 15-2 in four games

Charlotte Latin soccer player Zach Case Courtesy Charlotte Latin athletics

Zach Case, Charlotte Latin Soccer: The Charlotte Latin senior center back helped the Hawks to back-to-back shutouts last week to improve his team to 2-0-2 on the season.

Latin beat T.C. Roberson 3-0 Aug. 21 and came back four days later to blank Pinecrest 4-0.

Case will play college soccer at Denison University next season.

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Providence Day soccer star Gabriel Novak Mike McCarn Special to the Observer

Gabriel Novack, Providence Day Soccer: The Providence Day senior goalkeeper led the Chargers (2-0) to a 2-0 shutout win over Carmel Christian Aug. 23.

Novack had six saves against Carmel Christian, three of which were of the game-changing variety, according to Providence Day soccer coach Dan Dudley.

Novack also played strong in the Chargers’ season-opening 3-1 win over Christ School. Aug. 16.

Anthony Salgado Rodriguez, East Burke Soccer: The East Burke sophomore forward had seven goals and two assists to help the Cavaliers to a perfect 3-0 week and a 4-0 start to the season.

Salgado Rodriguez started his week with a hat-trick (three goals) to lead East Burke to a 4-0 win at Lawndale Burns Aug. 20.

Two days later, Salgado Rodriguez struck again with two goals and an assist in a 4-2 home win over Burns, where he had a penalty kick and netted a free kick from 25 yards out.

He finished off his week with another two goals and an assist in an 8-1 win over West Lincoln, Aug. 23.

Salgado Rodriguez has eight goals and two assists this season.

Michael Neel, Charlotte Catholic Football: The Charlotte Catholic senior running back averaged 17 yards per carry to help the Cougars (1-1) to a 37-0 victory over arch-rival South Mecklenburg, Aug. 24.

Charlotte Catholic running back Michael Neel led the Cougars past Kings Mountain in the N.C. 3AA semifinals Friday. Jeff Siner

Neel rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries in the win over the Sabres and has 322 yards rushing and three touchdowns this season.

Neel has Division I offers from Davidson College and Gardner-Webb University, according to Charlotte Catholic coach, Mike Brodowicz.

Pha’leak Brown, Chester Football: The Chester senior running back also had a big night on the ground, rushing for 211 on 17 carries (12 yards per carry) and a touchdown to help the Cyclones (2-0) to 28-20 victory at Fort Mill Aug. 24.

Brown, who also had four tackles in the same game at cornerback, put the game away with a 61-yard touchdown run with 2:44 remaining.

Brown is being recruited by several schools, including Appalachian State, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, James Madison University, Miami (OH) and Rhode Island, according to Chester coach, Victor Floyd.

Brown has 313 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries this season.

Jack Wilton, Sun Valley Football: The Sun Valley middle linebacker had 15 tackles, including two stops for a loss and a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Spartans (2-0) 49-14 win over Anson County, Sept. 24.

Sun Valley High senior linebacker Jack Wilton James Wilton Special to the Observer

Wilton, who replaced all-conference Sun Valley linebacker Roy Artolozoga, also had 13 tackles and a sack in the Spartans’ week one 35-13 win at Forest Hills.

Metrolina Christian Track Team: The Metrolina Christian track team won their own Carolinas’ Kickoff Invitational Aug. 25, placing four runners in the top 14.

Senior Tate Johnson led the way running a 17:08.79 (4th-place) in his first cross country race since his sophomore year. Tate’s younger brother, sophomore Camden Johnson, also impressed with a 17:40.68 to finish sixth-overall.

Warriors’ senior Jon Street finished 13th-place in a personal-best 18:19:09 while junior, Daniel Marian also ran a personal-record, 18:19.48 to finish 14th-place.

Metrolina Christian freshman Cornelius Marian also impressed coach Brett Honeycutt running a 19:32.07 in his first competitive, cross country race.

Charlotte Observer Girls’ Athletes of the Week

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Nation Ford volleyball star Sophie Fischer was a dominant force behind the Falcons’ state championship. Rob Upton Photography

Sophie Fischer, Nation Ford Volleyball: The 6-foot-4 Nation Ford junior outside hitter/middle blocker helped the Falcons remain undefeated this season (10-0) as they beat Providence and won their own (Nation Ford) Invitational Aug. 25.

Fischer started her week with 25 kills, 13 digs and three aces in Nation Ford’s 3-1 win over Providence, Aug. 22.

Three days later, Fischer led the Falcons to a perfect 6-0 mark to win the Nation Ford Invitational, beating Indian Land, Boiling Springs, Hilton Head, Northwestern, Lexington and Ashley Hall, all in the same day.

Fischer had eight kills, seven digs and two aces in the championship game win over Ashley Hall, and had 70 kills, 43 digs, 17 aces and six blocks for the week (Aug. 20-25).

Fischer, a candidate for S.C. Gatorade player of the year, has 121 kills, 79 digs, 24 aces and 10 blocks this season.

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SouthLake volleyball star Kennedy Smith Gwen Smith Special to the Observer

Kennedy Smith, SouthLake Christian Volleyball: The SouthLake Christian senior outside hitter had a monster week as she led the Eagles to a 7-1 record, including a perfect 5-0 mark to claim their own Volleybash tournament Aug. 25.

Smith had 63 kills in the five tournament matches, as SouthLake Christian beat Providence Day, Calvary Day, Community School of Davidson, Cary Academy and then Providence Day again in the finals, all on the same day (Aug. 25).

Smith, a Wofford commit, had 25 kills and 25 digs to help the Eagles (12-2) beat Gaston Day, 3-2, on Aug. 23.

Smith has 147 kills, 123 digs, 14 aces, and 15 blocks this season.

Saniya Harris, Parkwood Volleyball: The Parkwood senior outside hitter had another big week with 17 kills, 13 digs and six aces to lead the Rebels to wins over Forest Hills and Arborbrook Christian as they moved to 4-0 this season.

Saniya Harris of Parkwood volleyball Deb Balducci Special to the Observer

Harris had 10 kills, eight digs and five aces to help Parkwood to a 3-0 sweep of Forest Hills, Aug. 21.

Two days later, Harris again led the Rebels to victory over Arborbrook Christian with seven kills and five digs.

Harris was also voted a team co-captain by her teammates last week.

Kayleigh Reinke, Rock Hill Northwestern golf: The Northwestern sophomore earned medalist honors in both of the Trojans’ matches last week.

Reinke shot 4-over par to lead Northwestern to victory over York Aug. 20 at Waterford Golf Club in Rock Hill in a rain-shortened match.

Two days later, Reinke shot an even part, 36, at Spring Lake Country Club, winning individually for the second straight match, while falling to York as a team.

Reinke always play golf with her late father on her mind after he lost in his life in service to the country in Afghanistan when she was only two years old. Reinke still “plays for her father,” according to Northwestern golf coach, David Rector.

Kallie Pavlish, Charlotte Catholic Golf: The Charlotte Catholic junior shot a 1-under par 35 at Ballantyne Country Club to win medalist honors and lead her Cougar team to victory in the first Southern Carolinas’ conference (SCC) match of the season, Aug. 22.

Pavlish had eight pars and one birdie in the season-opening, SCC match as Catholic edged Marvin Ridge by two shots as a team (127 to 129).

Pavlish was an all-SCC selection as a sophomore last year.

Katie Pou, Nation Ford Cross Country: The Nation Ford sophomore finished an Charlotte Observer-area best third-place overall in a loaded Providence Invitational (5K) Aug. 25, running a 19:06.98, the best 5K run in state of South Carolina so far this season.

Pou is defending, S.C, AAAAA state cross country champion, winning the state title race by 19 seconds as a freshman.

Jacquelyn Ives, Providence Day Field Hockey: The Providence Day senior center midfielder/forward has played well this season with four goals and four assists in five games, while helping the Chargers to a 4-1 start.

Ives had a hat trick (three goals) in Providence Day’s 5-1 win over Marvin Ridge, Aug. 23.

Ives also earned all-tournament team honors last week (Aug. 17-18) at the Play 4 for the Cure Tournament at Cary Academy.

Lilly McNally, Charlotte Christian Tennis: The Charlotte Christian freshman has impressed this season as the Knights’ No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles (with teammate, Margaret Carlton), going a combined 7-0 (4-0 singles; 3-0 doubles) to help her team to a 4-0 start.

McNally has lost only 10 games in eight sets this year in singles’ play.

McNally helped Charlotte Christian to win over Metrolina Christian 9-0 on Aug. 20, and Cannon School Aug. 21 in easy fashion this week, losing only two games in four sets of singles’ play.

McNally is also a strong junior player as she is ranked No. 29 in North Carolina (class of 2022), and No. 209 in the Southeast region, according to

Bailey Phillips/Brooke Cox, South Point Tennis: The South Point duo led the Red Raiders to their first victory of the season over East Lincoln, Aug. 20.

Phillips, a senior and the No. 1 player, and Cox, a junior and the No. 2 player, both won their singles’ matches and paired in doubles’ for another victory to account for three of South Point’s five wins in the 5-4 triumph at East Lincoln.

Both Phillips and Cox are 1-2 this year in singles’ play and 2-1 together in doubles for South Point (1-2).

** Information published today includes statistics through August 26.

Want to nominate an athlete?: Athletes of the week highlights high school players with outstanding performances. The goal is to recognize all athletes in all sports, both the most accomplished and the underrated or underappreciated players. If you want to suggest someone to be included in the Athletes of the week column, send email to Jay Edwards at Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.