Indians fall to Crusaders in 3A girls soccer final

The St. Stephens girls soccer team came up short in its first appearance in the 3A state championship game.

Christina Gibbons netted two goals and Morgan Reid scored another leading Cardinal Gibbons to a 3-0 victory against the Lady Indians in the 3A final at Dail Stadium on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

"We ran into a buzz saw today," said Indians coach Chuck Davis. "(Christina Gibbons) might have been the best player we've seen. I hate to sound facetious, but we are the best public school in the state of North Carolina today. The talent we've got is pretty good. I'm proud of those girls. They kept their head up high. They fought hard the whole time."

Saint finishes its season with a 21-4-2 record.

The Lady Crusaders (22-2-1) established the tone early with a 35-foot kick by Reid, a junior defender, that curved over the head of St. Stephens goalkeeper Taylor Logan.

"It's been our goal to come out, score early, get ahead early and really control the game," Gibbons said. "We were able to do that a lot during playoffs. Thankfully, we were able to do it again with Morgan Reid's goal. It was awesome."

Six minutes later, Christina Gibbons added her first goal to give Cardinal Gibbons a two-goal cushion.

"She has been playing like that for us all season," said Cardinal Gibbons coach Michele Miller of Christina Gibbons. "We converted her a couple of games into the season. She is actually a back. She'll be playing as a defender at Duke. We needed goal scoring."

The Lady Indians were outshot 12-3 in the first half and trailed 2-0 at halftime.

Christina Gibbons, who was named the game's most valuable player, added her second goal of the game midway through the second half, jostling around the Lady Indians defense and slicing a kick past Logan.

"In the first half, they just got us on our heels and we were never able to recover and get any kind of rhythm going," Davis said. "They had great team speed. I felt like if we could have just put some more pressure on their defense, we probably could have gotten a goal or two. It seems like the probing balls we were sending into the back just didn't seem to work. Our three forwards worked together and scored a lot of goals this season. I don't know if we jinxed ourselves or someone jinxed us about how we hadn't allowed a goal or we had scored a lot of goals. It kind of turned around on us today."

The Lady Crusaders defense kept senior Macy Franklin scoreless. Franklin entered Saturday's 3A final with 48 goals on the season, including 12 of her team's 48 in the postseason.

Overall, St. Stephens was outshot in the final by Cardinal Gibbons, 20-9. The Lady Crusaders also held a 9-2 advantage on corner kicks.

St. Stephens was shut out in three of its four losses on the soccer field this season, including defeats to Roberson (6-0) and Enka (1-0). Saint also lost 5-2 to West Forsyth earlier this year.

In spite of the loss, Davis is proud of his team for its record-setting season.

"It was an honor to be here," he said. "This group deserved every bit of the success they got this year because of their work ethic. I'm proud of them. Now, we've got to go graduate. I've got six girls that are having the privilege of playing in the state title game in the morning and graduating in the night. I can't imagine how that feels. I'm kind of envious. That's got to be the greatest day in history. It could have been greater, but I'm proud of them nonetheless."