Ellis Soccer 10-0
The Ellis soccer team, which has been rampaging through the conference since 2011, wreaked more damage in the conference tournament.
In the semifinals, top-seeded Ellis buried No. 4 Lexington 9-0. In the championship game, the Jaguars blanked No. 2 North Davie 5-0.
The 10-0 finish was nothing new for the Jaguars. They have a 41-game winning streak. They’re riding a 53-0-1 streak. This was their third straight perfect season, and their fourth straight unbeaten season.
“This was a season I will never forget,” said Ellis coach Leah Reynolds, who is 20-0 in two years at the helm. “The girls have been wonderful to coach and have made the stress and long hours worth it. When I started coaching last year, I was nervous that I would not be any good at it. This year I went into the season very confident and ready for whatever our results would be. I never imagined a season like the one we had.”
Both days of the tournament were held at South Davie.
The semifinal between No. 2 North Davie and No. 3 South Davie was a classic confrontation that ended with North a 2-1 winner after a shootout.
The Wildcats (6-3) took the regular-season meetings 3-2 and 2-0, but South (4-5) was rather pesky in this one.
“We played a hard-fought game and almost came out on top,” South coach Louise Diemer said.
“The game started out very strong from both sides,” North coach Lauren Skidmore said. “We had solid passes and they were pressuring the ball back on us.”
In the first half, North grabbed a 1-0 lead on a goal by – who else? – Jessica Navarro. The star Wildcat accounted for 16 of North’s 19 goals on the year.
In the second half, Amanda Ngo rescued the Tigers. Morgan Lewis settled the ball and fired a shot. After the ball bounced off a player, Ngo tapped it in to tie the game at 1. Ngo scored four of South’s seven goals this year.
“After halftime, South came out with a vengeance,” Skidmore said.
Neither team scored again in regulation, and the tie set up a pressure-packed shootout.
“The ball went back and forth the rest of the second half, with multiple opportunities to score on both ends,” Skidmore said.
In the shootout, both coaches chose five players to take their turn against the goalie.
North had first shot, and Navarro put it in the net. South missed its first shot, but North missed its second attempt. South’s Ngo scored to tie the shootout at 1-1. North regained a 2-1 edge as Olga Gamez converted. South missed, then North missed. South missed again. When North’s Makenna Carden scored for a 3-1 advantage, it was all over. North had a berth to the championship game.
“Our final penalty kick was done by Carden, and it all fell on her to make that shot,” Skidmore said. “She did it perfectly, and we were able to take the shootout win.
“Overall, I was very impressed with the drive the girls showed, and their ability to stay calm and focussed during the shootout. I am excited for the championship game.”
Diemer threw a verbal bouquet to Kam Parks, the goalie who blocked two of North’s shots in the shootout.
In the other semifinal, Ellis played like it usually does, winning by a 9-0 mercy-rule margin over Lexington.
It was just another day at the office for Faith Bokeno and Jaci Grachen, who scored three goals each. Katherine Watts, Reece Vizcaino and Meghan Coats had one apiece.
“After not playing a game in over two and a half weeks, we played hard and worked together,” Reynolds said. “I am extremely proud of the team and the way they played. And I am extremely excited for our last game against North Davie.”
The championship game was more of the same. The Jaguars added the exclamation point to their 10-0 season with a 5-0 decision over North (6-4).
It wasn’t 9-0 like the first two meetings, but it was a convincing win nonetheless.
“All the girls played an awesome game,” Reynolds said. “It was a great accomplishment to score five goals as North had most of their players on defense. Every time an Ellis player got the ball, it seemed like there were four North players on top of them making it hard to pass and score.”
Bokeno enjoyed a hat trick. Grachen added two goals. They finished with gaudy numbers – Grachen a county-record 37 goals and Bokeno 35. They were complemented by midfielders Watts, Vizcaino, Madi Miller and Amanda Hofmann.
“Our midfielders played an aggressive game to get the ball to the forwards,” Reynolds said.
The Jaguars shut out every opponent this year, and they’ve allowed seven goals in two years. Defensive credit goes to goalie Maddie Tellup and defenders Anna Devereaux, Noor Shehata, Emma Slabach, Natalie Folsom and Katlyn Mote.
“Maddie saw more action than she had all season and still was unscored on,” Reynolds said. “Our defense did an awesome job keeping the North forwards from scoring.”
Eight of Ellis’ wins were by 9-0 scores. The only games that didn’t end early via the mercy rule were 6-0 over Lexington and the tournament final.
What’s scary for 2015 opponents is only five of Ellis’ players were eighth graders (Bokeno, Devereaux, Emily Pender, Shehata and Watts).
“A 9-0 score one time in soccer is unreal, but eight times is just insane,” Reynolds said. “I am so extremely proud of my players. Not because of the scores but because they all work hard in practice, they work together as a team and at the end of the day they are just playing soccer to have fun. I will miss my eighth graders. I thank them for two great seasons and wish them all the luck in the world.”