9 Charlotte-area teams ready for NCHSAA girls soccer quarters

The N.C. High School Athletic Association’s girls’ soccer playoff quarterfinals will have a distinctive Charlotte-area touch Thursday night, with nine local teams hoping to keep their state title hopes alive.

The Charlotte area produced two state champions last spring – Lake Norman Charter in 2A and Christ the King in 1A – and Ardrey Kell was the 4A runner-up.

Those three teams are among the quarterfinalists Tuesday night.

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Should Weddington beat Northwest Guilford on Thursday, the Charlotte area will be guaranteed of having a team in the 4A championship match.

Semifinals will be played next Tuesday, with championships set for June 2 and 3.

Here is a look at Thursday night’s soccer playoff quarterfinals, involving area schools:

Class 4A

Hough at Ardrey Kell

Time, location: 7 p.m., Ardrey Kell High (NFHS Network, Bahakel Sports)

Records: Hough 21-3-1; Ardrey Kell 22-3-1.

Series history: Hough leads 4-2 (Ardrey Kell won 3-1 on May 3 and 2-1 in last year’s playoff quarterfinals).

Scouting Hough: The Huskies average 5.32 goals on offense. Junior Kylee Thompson leads in goals (25), with juniors Sarah Funderburk (22 goals) and Avery Rush (15 goals, 22 assists) right behind. Senior Siena Zabek has a 1.09 goals-allowed average in goal.

Scouting Ardrey Kell: Junior Taylor Suarez leads the attack (28 goals, 20 assists), followed by senior Carly Montgomery (15 goals, 13 assists) and sophomore Ellie Riechman (10 goals, 11 assists). The Knights’ trademark is defense, with junior keeper Caroline McSweeney sporting a 0.42 goals-against average.

Winner faces … Weddington-Northwest Guilford winner.

Northwest Guilford at Weddington

Time, location: 6 p.m., Weddington High (NFHS Network).

Records: Northwest Guilford 17-2-1; Weddington 20-4.

Series history: This is the teams’ first meeting

Scouting Northwest Guilford: The Vikings are a serious threat on counters and breakaways, and 65 percent of their goals this season are unassisted. Sophomore Morgan Stallings leads with 21 goals. The Vikings play a smothering defense.

Scouting Weddington: The Warriors, who won 3A state titles in 2016 and ’17, have a balanced attack, led by freshman Paige Santos (16 goals) and senior Karly Connell (15 goals). Sophomore goalkeeper Madison Motto (0.85 goals-allowed average) has been sharp in the playoffs.

Winner faces … Hough-Ardrey Kell winner.

Class 3A

St. Stephens at South Point

Time, location: 7 p.m., South Point High, Belmont (NFHS Network).

Records: St. Stephens 15-4-1; South Point 20-0-3

Series history: The teams played only once previously, in the 2015 playoffs. St. Stephens won 8-0.

Scouting St. Stephens: The visitors, seeded 13th, have beaten fourth seed North Davidson and fifth seed Hickory in their last two matches. Senior Juliette Hessong is the leading scorer.

Scouting South Point: The Raiders are enjoying a dream season, averaging 6.87 goals on offense and just 0.43 on defense. Leading the way is senior Grace Smith (44 goals, 21 assists, 5.0 points per match), who is one goal short of her total from last season. Junior Lexi Birtwistle (25 goals, 19 assists) and freshman Mackenzie Crill (22 goals, 11 assists) also are threats.

Winner faces … Lake Norman Charter-West Henderson winner.

Lake Norman Charter at West Henderson

Time, location: 6 p.m., West Henderson High, Hendersonville (NFHS Network).

Records: Lake Norman Charter 19-1-2; West Henderson 22-3.

Series history: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Scouting Lake Norman Charter: The Knights won state titles last spring (in 3A) and in 2021 (in 2A) and were second in 2018 and ’19. Senior Rylie Cook is among the state’s scoring leaders, with 50 goals. But senior Kyla Patel (23 goals, 21 assists) and sophomore Madison Buffington (20 goals) also are standouts. Junior goalkeeper Imani Anzaya has a 0.36 goals-allowed average.

Scouting West Henderson: The Falcons lost to South Point in the quarterfinals last year. They have run roughshod over mountain opponents this season but lost to 4A powers Asheville and T.C. Roberson. Junior Marianne Maxon leads the attack (49 goals, 22 assists), and goalkeeper Ava Heffner (0.554 goals-allowed) has been stingy in the playoffs.

Winner faces … St. Stephens-South Point winner.

Class 2A

Hendersonville at Pine Lake Prep

Time, location: 6 p.m., Pine Lake Prep, Mooresville (NFHS Network).

Records: Hendersonville 17-4; Pine Lake Prep 19-1-2.

Series history: These teams are meeting for the first time.

Scouting Hendersonville: The Bearcats are extremely balanced, with five players in double figures for goals scored. Leading the way is junior Aubrie Retzbagh (16 goals). The Bearcats started 1-3 this season but have outscored their last five opponents 35-0.

Scouting Pine Lake Prep: The Pride are No. 1 seeds in the 2A West, despite being among the youngest teams in the division. Sophomore Avery Garrett (19 goals, 33 assists) and junior Maddyson Kerley (16 goals) lead what is a balanced attack. The defense is stingy, allowing 0.64 goals per match.

Winner faces … Community School of Davidson-Wheatmore winner.

Community School of Davidson at Wheatmore

Time, location: 7 p.m., Wheatmore High, Trinity (NFHS Network).

Records: Community School of Davidson 13-8-2; Wheatmore 22-0.

Series history: First meeting for these teams.

Scouting Community School of Davidson: On paper, the Spartans look totally overmatched here. But their schedule includes three teams still alive in the playoffs (Christ the King, Pine Lake Prep and Lake Norman Charter), along with private school 2A champion Davidson Day.

Scouting Wheatmore: The Warriors post video-game numbers, averaging a staggering 8.77 goals per match and allowing just 0.41. Junior Ellie Garrison leads the state in goals (90) and scoring (196 points), senior Summer Bowman has 58 goals, and sophomore Natalie Bowman is fourth in the state in assists (36). Their toughest regular-season match was against 3A power North Davidson, and the Warriors won 1-0.

Winner faces … Hendersonville-Pine Lake Prep winner.

Class 1A

Union Academy at Bishop McGuinness

Time, location: 6 p.m., Bishop McGuinness High, Kernersville (NFHS Network).

Series history: Union Academy is 1-2 against the Villains. Their last meeting was in May 2018, with Union Academy scoring a 4-3 playoff victory.

Scouting Union Academy: The Cardinals are probably a year away from their peak, led by juniors Katie Cunningham (40 goals, 23 assists), Shania Coppin (33 goals) and Heidi Estrade-Aguilar (27 goals, 25 assists). Goalkeeper McKayla Ashfield also is a junior. The Cardinals won 1A state championships in 2018 and ’19.

Scouting Bishop McGuinness: The Villains are outstanding in every sport, it seems. Senior Justine Grimsley leads the offense with 31 goals and 21 assists, but the defense is the team’s strong point. Bishop McGuinness is allowing an average of 0.6 goals per match.

Winner faces … Mount Airy-Christ the King winner.

Mount Airy at Christ the King

Time, location: 7 p.m., Christ the King High, Huntersville (streaming information TBA).

Records: Mount Airy 22-0-1; Christ the King 14-2-3.

Series history: The teams are meeting for the first time.

Scouting Mount Airy: The Granite Bears have not faced any teams that advanced deep into the playoffs this season. Junior Paola Ramirez has scored 37 goals, and junior goalkeeper Ali Ardner has a 0.684 goals-allowed average.

Scouting Christ the King: The Crusaders are defending 1A state champions and have improved steadily during the season. Defense is their trademark, with junior goalkeeper Elizabeth Navola sporting a sparkling 0.31 goals-allowed average. She has 12 shutouts this season. Senior Katie Reyes (15 goals) leads a balanced offense.

Winner faces … Union Academy-Bishop McGuinness winner.

Steve Lyttle on Twitter: @slyttle