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The amount of goals produced by the Hunt High varsity girls soccer team this season was in no way reflective of the amount of pressure the Lady Warriors placed on opposing defenses.
With senior Sophia Fox and sophomore Kristen Armstrong stressing opposition with their speed and touching of the ball in space, Hunt walked away from multiple matches in 2019 with double-digit totals in the corner kick department.
Although the Lady Warriors had their issues with finishing, it didn’t inhibit them from storming through the 3-A Big East Conference in undefeated fashion, posting a 14-3 record and advancing to the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs.
Hunt generated enough opportunities with Fox in the final third to make her the team leader in both goals and assists, as she put away 14 tallies and helped out on six others. As such, Fox garnered acclaim from the Big East’s coaches as their Offensive Player of the Year.
When Fox did do damage in the back of the net, that one-goal margin was usually enough to stand. In goal, senior Rachel Cox allowed just eight goals in 17 games. Only one shot got by her in conference play, leaving the anchor of Hunt’s already stout defense as the simple choice for Defensive Player of the Year.
“Sophia is a pretty good player,” Hunt head coach Richard Frazier said. “She’s developed into a good goal scorer that has a knack for the goal.”
Armstrong, who tied for second on the team with seven goals, was not among Hunt’s all-conference selections. But while neither player was a significant striking threat from distance, each could create a 1 v. 1 given the right through ball and a well-timed run.
“It was my goal this year to be a part of the team and make an impact on the team offensive wise, Fox said. “It was my last year, and I wanted to go out with a bang. I am honored to be the offensive player of the year.”
As one of Hunt’s main threats out wide, Fox often found herself man marked or met with physical play from opponents trying to dispossess her. She took it all in stride.
“I was fine with people being physical as long as it wasn’t dirty,” Fox assured. “If I’m man marked, that’s leaving one other teammate.”
Hunt’s defense gave up 12 goals all season and made quality shot opportunities in the run of play a scarce commodity. Cox faced 125 shots on goal and walked away with a .900 save percentage.
“She works very hard in the goal,” Frazier said of Cox. “She’s become a lot more composed now that she’s a senior. With more minutes under her belt, she’s fearless. She’s definitely a vocal leader and the director of our defense back there.”
Hunt also placed sophomore Mackenzie Tyson, senior Camille Ruiz, senior Miriam Herrera and junior Alea Jones on the Big East’s all-conference team. Ruiz patrolled the midfield, while Tyson, Herrera and Jones were a part of Hunt’s sturdy defense.
Second-place Fike, which finished 8-9-1 overall and 7-3 in conference play, was represented by Keyshawna Ortiz, Jessica Avery, Akari Nakaya, Riley Patterson and goalkeeper Jah’Asia Pernell.
Rocky Mount, which finished third, was represented by Katie Moss, Tatum Janke, Madeline Dalsimer and Carson Browder.
Southern Nash was tied for fourth with Franklinton and finished with a 9-9 record in Robbie Kennedy’s first season at the helm. The Ladybirds placed goalkeeper Kathryn Robinson, Brisa Savilla and striker Nef Gonzalez.
Franklinton secured the trio of LaDenna Cornell, Rachel Black and Hayla Ahmaditorshizi.
Northern Nash, which was sixth, had Kelsey Hutchinson and Sidney Sullivan named to the all-conference rolls.
Honorable mention acclaim went to Hunt senior Sarah Mercer, Fike junior Vallery Gore, Rocky Mount’s Ashtyn Schrimper, Southern Nash junior Melissa Hernandez, Franklinton’s Miracle Cornell and Charlie Evans of Northern Nash.
Hunt’s Frazier was recognized as conference champion coach.