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Cape Fear continues to crush soccer playoff foes

Cape Fear Academy’s Michele Whipple (center, smiling) is swarmed by teammates Leah Falor (25) and Annie Gray Holt (8) after scoring in the Hurricanes’ shutout win Tuesday against Fayetteville Academy. See more photos at (Photo by Photo by Paul Stephen)

By Tyler Heffernan

In the postseason, coaches usually take extra precautions to keep their players focused by treating wins in a low-key manner.

After the Cape Fear Academy girls soccer team beat visiting Fayetteville Academy 3-0 on Tuesday night in the NCISAA state quarterfinals, coach Meade McFarland threw all of those inhibitions away – for now, at least.

"Let's just enjoy this one," McFarland kept telling his players after the horn sounded.

With the win, CFA (18-1) enters unfamiliar territory while riding the school's best soccer season in history.

"We played in this game last year and we didn't have a chance to advance, so this was something that we've thought about since the beginning of the season," the seventh-year Hurricanes coach said. "Winning this game means a lot. It means something we've never advanced to."

Addie Lalier got the CFA offense started in the eighth minute when she dribbled by a defender to the left and fired a shot across the box. It hit the left goal post, but Michele Whipple headed in the rebound for an early 1-0 lead.

McFarland said he placed an emphasis on being aggressive, but despite seven shots on goal in the first half (17 total), CFA was unable to extend its advantage before halftime.

Fayetteville had four shots (six total), with its best chance coming in the 21st minute when forward Kelly Post's breakaway attempt was broken up by Hurricanes goalkeeper Olivia Franco.

Post is largely responsible for the lone blemish on CFA's record. She scored three goals and assisted on another in the Eagles' 4-2 victory on March 27.

"Kelly Post just destroyed us in the first game," McFarland said. "Annie Gray Holt marked up on her and she did a great job. Annie Gray is as tough as they come, and I thought she shut her down completely."

CFA added insurance in the 63rd minute off a penalty kick from senior Caroline Barnes. Fifteen minutes later, Barnes scored her 24th goal of the season on a tactical, looping shot over the Eagles' goalkeeper.

CFA will play Friday in the state semifinal match against the winner of Davidson Day and O'Neal School. The Hurricanes have beaten O'Neal twice this season by scores of 2-1 and 3-2. Since the latest meeting almost a month ago, CFA has notched eight shutouts, beating opponents by the combined score of 35-0.

"We're a little banged up, but that's something we'll think about tomorrow," McFarland said, still exchanging smiles with nearby players, coaches and administrators. "This is the best season we've ever had, and this is the best team we've ever had."