Ellis girls soccer caps storybook season

Published 11:37 am Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

The Ellis girls soccer team took coaches Mike Morgan and Dan Cagle and their fans on an unforgettable ride in 2024.

In the semifinals of the Tri-County Conference Tournament, the Jaguars knocked off unbeaten China Grove 2-1 while holding the upper hand all game.

Another magical moment came in the championship game. Mooresville came in as the only team that had beaten Ellis all season. In the regular season, the Red Imps shaved Ellis 2-1 and the teams tied 0-0 in the second meeting. But in the final, the Jaguars followed the same script as the China Grove game – they led throughout in a 3-2 victory and capped a 13-1-1 season.

In the first round of the tournament, Ellis smothered Erwin 5-0.

“Most of (Mooresville’s) kids are club players,” said Cagle, the assistant coach. “They are very talented, but we had a special group of girls, a unique group, and we got a little better as the season went on. In the championship game, we were ready.”

With the exception of the three games against Mooresville and the battle with China Grove, the Jaguars absolutely mashed opponents. They got monster contributions from a seventh grader, Addalyn Steelman, who scored all three goals in the final and finished as the top scorer for the season.

“Addalyn has extremely good touch on the ball, she’s very, very competitive, she’s very, very tough-minded, and she is coachable,” Cagle said. “Her competitiveness and her touch are her best attributes. She’s got a desire to score.”

The team’s top three scorers included eighth grader Kate Chaffin and seventh grader Charlotte Watson. Chaffin is a beast on the tennis courts and she’s not so shabby on the soccer field.

“Charlotte had a real good offensive year,” Cagle said. “Kate was an undefeated tennis player (last fall). She’s very, very competitive and very, very athletic. She hasn’t played as much soccer as some of these other girls, but she’s an extremely athletic and extremely competitive young lady. She scored a lot of goals this year.”

The team was fueled by a remarkable eighth-grade class that included three girls who led the basketball team to 17-0 glory – center midfielder Olivia Smith, goalie Gracie Shore and defender Gracyn Coleman. The other eighth graders were Piper Davis, Makenzie Willard, Chaffin, Keylin Andrade, Grace Gilliam and Makenna McGowan.

“The eighth grade class is just a special group of girls,” Cagle said. “Gracyn is a dedicated soccer player. She is a club player. Olivia and Gracie are club basketball players. They are tremendous young ladies and tremendous athletes. Every now and then, you run through groups that are special, and this is a special group of kids.

“Makenna is a club soccer player. Gracyn and Makenna are defensive-minded. We moved Makenna up some during the year and she got better and better and better as the year went on. The last two games she made a big difference.

“Piper was with us last year, too. She made a lot of advancement and became a real anchor defensively.

“Makenzie made a lot of progress. She had been injured, but she came back for the championship game and made a big, big difference.

“You can be a good team, but if you don’t have somebody really good at goalie, you’re sure not gonna be a great team or you’ll be lucky to be a championship team. Gracie’s not a polished goalkeeper, but her great athleticism made up for any polish she didn’t have.”

You can’t talk about the 13-1-1 season without mentioning Addison Lakey, Andrade, Gilliam and Kate Scott.

“Addison made big strides, played the majority of the championship game and helped out an awful lot,” Cagle said. “Keylin, Grace and Kate Scott have all played vital roles for the past two years.”

Notes: Ellis outscored opponents 60-7. … The 22-deep roster included Madison Tucker, Daniela Perez-George, Zusanna Guererro, Tessa Crowley, Summer Phifer, Harper Kettner, Kyndall Upright, Melanie Sanchez and Neriyah Johnson. … Morgan said Cagle’s soccer expertise has been a blessing for Ellis for two years. “I coached high-level club soccer for about 20 years, but it was just about all last century,” said Cagle, who bought a farm in Davie County in 1996 and has lived here since. … Cagle was a long-term sub at Ellis last year, and he was a full-time teacher this year. “I’m the oldest first-year teacher in Davie County,” he said. “Everybody around Ellis wants to know how old I am. I asked them: ‘How old do you want me to be?’”