Mike Duprez and Ray Criscoe
Defending state 2-A girls soccer champion Wheat-more captured two more playoff wins last week, but the second one took a late score from junior star Ellie Garrison to launch the Warriors into the state semifinals for the second year in a row.
The wins pitted No. 2 seed Wheatmore against No. 1 Pine Lake Prep in Mooresville on Tuesday evening to see which team would play this Friday night in the state finals.
On the other side of the bracket, No. 1 Clinton, which lost last year’s state title game to Wheatmore, faced off against No. 3 Manteo.
The final four teams left are all stout, with only one loss between the four of them.
Wheatmore, 23-0, was on a 48-game win streak, which tied the state record set by Union Academy in 2021. The Warriors had also scored 195 goals going into Tuesday night’s game, tying their own state record for goals in a season they set last year.
Pine Lake Prep (20-1-2), meanwhile, had not been scored on in its four playoff games. Both Clinton and Manteo entered Tuesday night’s game 23-0-2.
The Warriors reached this point with wins over teams they also beat late in last year’s playoff run.
On Monday, March 22, Wheatmore vanquished Wilkes Central 6-1 behind three goals from Garrison, the all-time single-season leader in scoring in NCHSAA history. Her three goals gave her 90 for the season, 12 more than the record of 78 she set last season.
Summer Bowman pitched in two goals of her own, giving her 58 on the year. Bowman, who broke the NCHSAA assist record for a season earlier this year, added to her total with her 62nd of the year. The previous mark of 53 was set in 2018 by Sarah Brown of Union Academy. No one else has had more than 48 in a single season.
Natalie Bowman also scored in the game.
In the fourth round game on Thursday, Wheatmore rallied from a 1-0 deficit against Community School of Davidson for a 2-1 win. The visiting Spartans, who had upset previously undefeated West Davidson in the second round, broke a scoreless game just over 10 minutes into the second half. The Warriors responded a few minutes later with a Garrison goal. Then she put in the game-winner with under four minutes remain-ing in regulation, giving her 92 on the year.
Last year, Wheatmore defeated CSD 3-2 in the fourth round and Wilkes Central 4-3 in overtime in the semifinals before beating Clinton 4-1 in the finals.
Pine Lake Prep has played CSD twice this year, winning 2-1 and 3-0. Pine Lake Prep had outscored its foes 96-14 on the season. Wheatmore outscored its foes 195-10.