The second season begins

Lady Warriors take No. 3 East seed, face CBA first

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After an unbeaten 3-A Big East Conference season, the Hunt High girls soccer team reaped the rewards by earning the East Region No. 3 seed in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs when the pairings were announced Monday.

Hunt (13-2) will host No. 30 C.B. Aycock (7-8-2) in the first round Tuesday at 6 p.m.

“They were on the schedule a couple of years ago and they’re definitely a tough opponent,” Lady Warriors head coach Richard Frazier said of the Lady Falcons, who were the No. 3 3-A team in the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference. “They try to put numbers behind the ball and make it hard for you to score, so we’re looking forward to a challenge. I’m very proud of the girls this year. We’ve had some good games and hopefully the better games are yet to come.

Also in the 3-A bracket, Fike, the East No. 15 seed, will host No. 18 South Brunswick and in the 2-A playoffs, No. 32 Beddingfield heads to Newport to take on top-seeded Croatan. Both games are Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Hunt, which was ranked ninth in the final MaxPreps.com adjusted rankings released by the NCHSAA on Monday, has put together one of its best seasons in years. The Lady Warriors have posted nine shutouts, including a 1-0 defeat of Fike on Wednesday in the completion of a game that was suspended in early April, and their 10 goals allowed on the season tie them with Southwest Guilford for the fifth-fewest among the 3-A playoff teams.

“Defensively we’ve been strong all year and I think that is our strong suit,” Frazier said. “We possess the ball as good as any team we’ve faced thus far. We just need that final component to be able to finish in the final third.”

Senior goalkeeper Rachel Cox ranks eighth among state 3-A keepers with a .414 goals against average while the back line of senior Alea Jones, freshman Kaley gesell, junior Abigail Beamon and senior Miriam Herrera keep Cox’s save chances to a minimum.

Senior Sophia Fox is the leading scorer but seniors Camille Ruiz and Mckenzie Hinnant as well as sophomores Kristen Armstrong and Mackenzie Tyson possess the ability to find the net.

“Sophia’s our leading scorer and we’ve got multiple girls with five or six goals or more, but we try to share the ball and put it in the right place to make it hard for the defense and try to capitalize on ball movement,” Frazier said.

The winner of the Hunt-Aycock match will face the winner between No. 14 Cleveland and No. 19 Pittsboro Northwood in the second round Friday.

Fike (8-8-1) earned an automatic berth by beating Franklinton on Thursday night to finish second in the Big East. However, that didn’t give the Lady Demons an automatic home game.

“I was hoping that would be the case but I knew it would depend on where some of those Guilford County schools sat and that would determine how many No. 1s and how many No. 2s, so it worked out pretty good in our favor,” Fike head coach Toni Varacchi said.

South Brunswick (10-8) was the No. 2 3-A team from the 3-A/4-A Mideastern Conference, which sent all eight members to the postseason.

Offense has been an issue for the Lady Demons this season, having been outscored 42-29.

“We need to find a bit more offensive power,” Varacchi said. “We did a little bit with Franklinton but we did have some defensive inconsistencies and some breakdowns that, you know, we gave up two shots on goal and they scored.”

Despite its first winning season since 2011, Beddingfield (9-5-2) reached the postseason as the lowest-seeded team in the 2-A East. For that, the Lady Bruins, who tied for third in the Eastern Plains Conference, received a shot at Croatan (18-3), unbeaten in 1-A/2-A Coastal 8 Conference play and fourth-ranked in the MaxPreps.com adjusted 2-A rankings. But, behind Jenna Batchelor and Lynsey Reason, the Lady Bruins have scored 44 goals.