Ladybirds freshman Robinson earns top Big East defensive honor

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While Fike High senior Reily Nelson being named the 3-A Big East Conference Offensive Player of the Year in girls soccer, Southern Nash freshman goalkeeper Kathryn Robinson was a bit of surprise in landing the Big East Defensive Player of the Year honor.

After all, the Ladybirds went 0-17 and were outscored 81-4 on the season, including 55-2 in league matches. On the other hand, Robinson, who allowed 64 goals, produced an astounding 290 saves, or 17.1 per game.

“They were under attack a lot and she was able to make a lot of saves,” commended Hunt head coach Richard Frazier.

Robinson’s saves total ranks sixth across all associations and classifications in North Carolina this spring and second only to Fayetteville E.E. Smith’s Moesha Smith’s 325 saves among North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A goalkeepers.

“Yeah, she’s a special player, indeed,” Ladybirds head coach Carlos Barron said. “I nominated her, first of all, because I thought she was deserving. I felt that even if she didn’t get it, people would hear her name and not just saying they have a really strong goalie. Throughout the season many of the other coaches mentioned that she was a standout player.”

While it was a tough season all around for the Ladybirds, Barron pointed out that Robinson kept it from being worse.

“No doubt, I felt like the scores could have been really messy if it hadn’t been for her stellar play in goal for us,” he said.

Robinson and fellow freshman Jada Zimmerman were the only two Southern Nash players selected to the All-Big East team but Barron said the pair are part of a group of players from Southern Nash Middle who he hopes will help the Ladybirds turn around the program in a year or two.

“I hope so! That’s a silver lining, you might say, that you can look to the future for positive things,” he said.

Regular-season co-champions Fike and Hunt each had six selections on the all-conference team. The Lady Demons were led by Nelson, a three-time All-Big East player who was honorable mention as a freshman, and senior midfielder Claire Dixon, a repeat selection. Senior goalkeeper Jah’Asia Pernell, honorable mention a year ago, was joined by senior Rachel Boswell, senior Madeline Richardson and senior Mikayla Atkinson on the elite unit.

Hunt was paced by seniors Bailey Hardison and Makala Brown, juniors Camille Ruiz and Sophia Fox, sophomore Alea Jones and freshman Kristen Armstrong.

The rest of the all-conference team is Franklinton’s Emma Albright, Rachel Black and Ella Johnson; Northern Nash’s Kelsey Hutchinson and Grayson Tanner and Rocky Mount’s Carson Browder, Madeline Dulcimer, Tatum Janke and Katie Moss.

Hunt’s McKenzie Tyson, Fike’s Riley Patterson and Southern Nash’s Ruby Ledezma were among those accorded honorable mention.

Fike’s Toni Varacchi was saluted as Coach of the Year.