Warlassies are heading to the third round

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

The Owen girls soccer team is heading to the third round of the state playoffs, having won its first two opening tournament games. 

The Warlassies, who entered the playoffs as a number eight seed, will travel to Salisbury on Wednesday, May 16 to take on the Hornets, a number one seed with a 23-0 record heading into the match. 

Owen senior Sarah Woodbury gets her head on the ball in the Warlassies' 4-0 defeat of Maiden High at home.

Owen finished the regular season with a 10-0 record in the Western Highlands Conference. The Warlassies allowed one goal against a conference opponent all season on their way to a 14-3-1 overall record. 

The 2A girls soccer playoffs began May 9 when Owen hosted the number 25 seeded Maiden Blue Devils. An early goal on a penalty kick by sophomore Camryn Bolick put the Warlassies on the board, and they never let up. 

Owen goalkeeper C.J. Graham goes up for the ball as the Warlassies beat Maiden 4-0 in the opening round of the playoffs at home on May 9.

Owen went into the half with a 3-0 lead over Maiden before adding a goal in the second half on the way to a 4-0 victory. Head coach David Fiest said he expected his team to "come out strong and focused."

"We were able to jump on them pretty quick," he said. "That goal helped boost our confidence and set the tone."

The tone of Owen's second round game, played against Central Academy of Technology and Arts at Warhorse Stadium May 12, was completely different. 

"We went into the half tied 0-0," Fiest said. "We changed our tactics, but we went down a goal early in the second half."

With about 18 minutes remaining in the game, Fiest pulled goalkeeper C.J. Graham to add offensive firepower to the Warlassies' attack. 

"She played in the field for us her first year and led us in goals scored," Fiest said. "We had to figure out a way to get back into the game."

But the goalkeeper, who allowed only four goals during the regular season, quickly found herself back in goal after Bolick tied the game with a long shot on goal that "dipped and dropped in," Fiest said. 

"I immediately told C.J. to change back into her keeper uniform," he said. 

Minutes later junior Carly Campbell dribbled between multiple defenders and was clipped from behind in the box, earning a penalty kick. 

"Camryn finished the penalty kick and put us up 2-1," he said. "From there we found a way to stick with it and pick up the win."

Owen sophomore Camryn Bolick controls the ball in a 4-0 win over Maiden to open the playoffs May 9.

The comeback win over the Cougars was "one of the best efforts I've seen out of this program," Fiest said. 

"You could see once we went down that the weren't going to let (the season) end like that," he said. "They stepped up and just got it done."

The win sets up a third-round match against Salisbury, which was dominant in the Central Carolina Conference this season. 

"I told my players to remember the effort they put into against Central Academy," Fiest said. "When they play like that they can play with anybody. It doesn't matter who it is."

In 2016, the Warhorses, also led by Fiest, defeated number one seeded Forbush in East Bend to advance to the third round of the playoffs. The coach will use that game to remind his players that they can beat a top-seeded team. 

"I'm going to remind them that the boys went down there and beat an undefeated Forbush a couple of seasons ago," he said. "I believe that this (Warlassies) team has the confidence and focus to go down to Salisbury and pick up that win."