Winchester is Bandys first Div. 1 soccer signee

Bandys’ Cassidy Winchester made history on Friday.

The senior became the first girls soccer player at her school to sign with a Division I college, inking her National Letter of Intent with University of South Carolina-Upstate.

“I’m so excited,” Winchester said. “It’s an honor to be the first one to sign, just for my sake. I’m really happy just to be signing.”

Lady Trojans coach Clifford Mayer said the senior is unlike any player he’s ever had the privilege of coaching.

“Cassidy is by far the best soccer player that has ever played for Bandys — boys and girls,” Mayer said. “When I coached the boys for four years, she could have started on my boys teams. She is by far the best soccer player we’ve ever had.”

Through three years of her high school career (2009-11), Winchester netted 70 goals, including a school-record 35 goals in the 2010 season.

She was named All-Catawba Valley 2A in 2009, 2010 and 2011, as well as All-Region those three years.

After leading the Lady Trojans to a 12-4-3 record (8-3-3 in the CVAC) last season and a 2A playoff appearance, Winchester earned All-State accolades.

Despite those accomplishments so far in her Trojan career, Winchester said she wants to achieve more.

“I’m really looking forward to this year because I think our team this year will be better than last year’s,” she said. “I’m hoping we can do better. We came in third and made it to the first round of the playoffs, but I’m hoping we can make it further than that. We just need to work really hard this year, especially the 4-5 seniors on the team. Hopefully, we can step up this year for all of us.”

Winchester also looks forward to a potential chance at a career and school milestone.

She is 30 goals shy of breaking 100-goal mark in her career, which would make her the first Lady Trojan to reach such a feat.

“I limit her to three goals a game because I don’t like running up the score,” Mayer said. “I don’t let her go beyond three and she knows that.”

Winchester admits, though, that the record may force her to break her coaches’ standards.

“Even when coach tells me to stop, more than likely I’ll keep going,” she said. “I want to see how many more I can get. Hopefully I can get to 100, but I still have a ways to go.”

Mayer said the thing he enjoys most about Winchester as a player is her ability to be a good person and teammate.

“One thing about Cassidy is she a great student and a great kid, both inside and outside of school,” Mayer said. “She motivates other players. She tries to encourage them. When she isn’t scoring, she distributes the ball, helps the other players out and helps them get goals. She does a great job. She is a true leader on the field.”

Winchester is the second signee to be a first-time Div. I athlete coming from a sport at Bandys, joining swimmer Michaela Beatty, who signed with Lenoir-Rhyne in November.

Five Lady Trojans have already signed to play collegiately next season, including basketball player Jesse Story (Lenoir-Rhyne), and softball players Taylor Sigmon (Western Carolina) and Scarlett Harris (Gardner-Webb).

“We’ve had a lot of girls sign,” Winchester said. “The female athletes here at Bandys get it done. Us women, we know how to do it.”