Coastal Christian girls soccer downs rival Cape Fear Academy in second round of NCISAA 3A playoffs

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There was a common theme as the starting lineup for the Coastal Christian girls soccer team was announced Thursday afternoon.

The first seven players were all freshmen making their playoff debut. If they were nervous, it didn’t show.

Three of the team’s six goals came from freshmen as the No. 7 seed Centurions picked up a 6-3 victory over rival Cape Fear Academy in the second round of the NCISAA 3A playoffs.

“I told them pregame that it was alright to be nervous, but they couldn’t stay there,” Coastal Christian coach Brian Kurtz said. “What we wanted to do was get everyone a touch early and communicate something simple and that helps calm the nerves. Right off the opening kickoff we put about 12 passes together and we settled right in.”

Coastal Christian senior Anna Smith scored her team-leading 14th goal in the 88th minute. [Tim Hower/Coastal Preps]

One of those freshmen, Jaeden Earle scored in the 42nd and 57th minute to put the home team up 4-2. Brooke Barton and Anna Smith each added a second half goal to put the game out of reach.

“I reminded them that we had been here before. At their place, we were up 2-0 and gave up two goals,” Kurtz said. “We could have thrown in the towel either time, but we started to find feet and came out as the winner.”

The Centurions (13-6) built an early 2-0 lead on goals from freshmen Bryna Barton in the 10th minute and junior Lauren Allen in the 12th minute, but the advantage didn’t last long.

CFA (7-9) got a pair of long free kick goals from sophomore Anne Frances Frazier to even the score at halftime. Her first strike came from about 25 yards out in the 20th minute and her second was five yards farther back in the 38th minute.

It only took two minute into the second half for Coastal Christian to take the lead back for good. Earle was on the receiving end of an Allen pass for her first goal. Fifteen minutes later, she caught up to a perfectly played through ball from Brooke Barton.

“Our captain (Olivia Edwards) gave us a pep talk at halftime and we just went out and played our game in the second half,” Earle said.

After Brooke Barton scored in the 60th minute to increase the lead to 5-2, the Hurricanes immediately responded when Alena Gianoplus cleaned up a rebound off another Frazier free kick.

Cape Fear Academy sophomore Anne Frances Frazier had two free kick goals. [Tim Hower/Coastal Preps]

CFA continued to bring numbers forward to try to cut into the lead, but Coastal Christian goalkeeper Betsy Wheeler turned a couple decent chances away. The freshman finished with 10 saves.

Smith put the game away with her team-leading 14th goal of the season in the 88th minute.

The Centurions, who received an opening round bye, won’t have much time to celebrate. They turn around and play at No. 2 Hickory Grove Christian on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

“Two of days of practice with me usually feels like back-to-back games, so I think we’ll be ready to go,” Kurtz said.