CORNELIUS – The Hough High girls’ soccer team, for the second time in three years, is the best in the United States.

The Huskies finished No. 1 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, after going 25-0-2 and winning the N.C. 4A championship. Hough also was top-ranked when it won the state title and went undefeated in 2012.

“It is a huge honor for us to be ranked No. 1 in this poll,” Hough coach David Smith said. “I think it really shows how consistent we have been in these first four years. We did not really pay a lot of attention to it during the season. A lot of the students would talk it about it via Twitter, etc.”

Hough, led by three-time all-state goalkeeper Marnie Merritt,  posted 21 shutouts in 27 games. The team scored 126 goals, an average of nearly five per game.

Senior Courtney Carroll, named Most Valuable Player in the state championship game, led a deep Hough offense with 29 goals and 21 assists.

Hough played its best during the playoffs. It allowed one goal in six playoff matches. The Huskies defeated Myers Park in the fourth overtime in the semifinals and Cary Panther Creek, also in the fourth overtime, at the state final.

“Obviously the last two games were memorable for how they ended and that is always going to stick in my mind,” Smith said. “Early in the season we had to come from behind to beat Lake Norman and that really gave me a glimpse into how tough these girls could be."

Hough’s lone semi-blemishes were the two ties.

“In our first match of the season Providence scored in the last 30 seconds to tie us, and I think it really hit our girls to see how they celebrated tying us,” Smith said. “Same when we tied Concord Robinson in last regular season game. The girls did not want to see another team celebrate at our expense. That really drove us those six playoff games.”