DAVIDSON – A group of determined girls carved a special memory into the history of the Community School of Davidson. They’re the Spartans’ first state champion team.
CSD capped a 19-0 girls’ soccer season by beating East Carteret 2-1 on penalty kicks to win the N.C. 1A championship May 31 in Raleigh.
The teams battled to a 1-1 draw for 110 minutes, including the regulation 80 minutes, two 10-minute overtimes and two five-minute sudden death periods, before going to penalty kicks.
All four shooters for CSD scored on their penalty kicks – Anna LaVella, Eliza Robinson, Hayden Wheaton and Cassidy Haddock. The Spartans clinched it when CSD’s Madison Good, a sophomore goalkeeper, stopped shots by two East Carteret shooters.
Good, who also had two saves in regulation, was named the championship’s Most Valuable Player. She’s in her first season as a keeper.
“We’d practiced penalty kicks for 30 minutes the day before,” CSD coach Chad Solomonson said. “Everyone was striking the ball great. I was nervous that we might’ve left them all on the practice field.”
Instead, the Spartans fought through fatigue, tension and the loss of leading scorer Julia Grainda (she broke her leg in the semifinal).
“A lot had to do with our leadership,” Solomonson said. “Our school is only four years old, and this is our second year in a conference. For us to get through to that (championship) level, we went through some knocks to learn what it feels like to compete.”
Solomonson credited co-captains Wheaton (CSD’s lone senior) and Rebecca Kuzmanovich, a junior.
“Hayden has great determination on the field,” he said. “Rebecca is a fantastic communicator. We didn’t have any injuries until Julia’s and we had some really good freshmen that came together.”
CSD pumped in 81 goals and limited opponents to 13 goals all season. Defenders Grace Kwiatkowski, Bridgett Mitchell, Emily Russell and Kuzmanovich didn’t allow a lot of shots.
Grainda, a sophomore who led CSD with 23 goals, was hurt early in the semifinal. She made the trip to Raleigh, despite being confined to a wheelchair. When the championship trophies and medals were handed out, Grainda (leg elevated) was in the middle of the celebration.
“She was in every huddle during the game,” Solomonson said. “The team really rallied around her. She’s one of our leaders and she’s a warrior out there. Her mentality on the field helped, even though she was out.”
Lissi Gordon, a freshman, scored CSD’s goal in the 51st minute of the title game, which tied the score 1-1. It was her 21st score of the season, impressive considering she plays defense on her club team.
LaVella scored nine goals, and the Spartans had key contributors in Robinson (eight goals, nine assists) and Haddock (six goals, 10 assists).
The Spartans’ joyous ride home from Raleigh didn’t end until past midnight.
“I had a huge smile on my face the whole time,” Solomonson said. “The music was going and it was a fantastic ride. This is really huge for the school. It’s a memory we’ll all have forever.”