Martinsville, VA - Cape Fear women's soccer defeated Patrick Henry Community College on the road 5-0 on Thursday, becoming the first team in program history to finish the regular season undefeated (15-0).
"[I am] really happy for the team for making some of their own history," said head coach Ryan Deppa. "Something like this does not just happen. It takes commitment and preparation."
The Sea Devils dominated opponents all season, and that continued against Patrick Henry. Forward Carly Higgins put the game out of reach within the first 10 minutes, scoring goals in the 4th, 7th, and 9th minutes. Nina Perry provided assists on two of her goals, while Melani Anderson assisted on the other. Then, in the 22nd minute, center back Madison Bolen fired a shot from 35 yards out into the top corner of the goal to put Cape Fear up 4-0. Carly Higgins set Bolen up for the shot.
The lead put Cape Fear well on their way to finishing the regular season undefeated, but the best moment of the night came in the second half. Higgins entered Thursday's game with 29 goals on the season, three shy of the single season record set by former Cape Fear standout Jaylyn High, who scored 32 goals in 21 appearances in 2011. Higgins first half hat trick tied her with High, but she sought her fourth as the second half went on.
In the 70th minute, Ava John was brought down in the box, forcing a penalty. Instead of taking it herself, she gave it to Higgins to give her the opportunity to break the record. Higgins converted the penalty, becoming Cape Fear's all-time leader for goals in a single season. She scored 33 in just 15 games, an average of 2.2 per game.
It was a proud moment for Coach Deppa.
"This was a special moment for our team," said Deppa. "Carly breaking the record is well deserved and so very special. Ava being so unselfish to give up her own goal scoring opportunity to help her teammate is just a proud moment for me as a coach, and a super proud moment for our program. The character that it takes for a player to make a decision to help her teammates, like the one Ava made, says so many great things about Ava and her team."
Higgins was ecstatic and overwhelmed with breaking the record.
"It's [a] humbling and overwhelming feeling to experience all my hard work paying off as a player," said Higgins. "The record is broken on a deeper level, however, because I am surrounded by such talented and hardworking teammates. I am very grateful to be playing with this team and I do not want it to end. This record is for all of us to share."
The rest of the game went relatively quiet, though Patrick Henry continued to seek a goal to avoid the shutout. However, five saves from goalkeeper C.J. Garvey in 75 minutes, and two more from Kenedy Green afterwards, gave Cape Fear their eighth shutout in a row.
"I was pleased with the result," said Deppa. "At times we looked sharp and ready for the playoffs, [but] at times we looked out of sorts with the ball. We have been moving some things around so some of the 'out of sorts' is simply coming from change. The girls once again made it happen and got it done on the road vs a Patrick Henry team that refused to give up."
And while there remains a few things to improve upon before the regional tournament begins, Deppa has nothing but praise for his squad, which outscored opponents 102-6 this season.
"They have found so many ways to get it done. At home, on the road, in the heat, [with] injuries, being down, having the lead, and so on. They continue to be hungry, and continue to make it happen. That is a great quality to own going into the playoffs."
As successful as this season has been, Deppa stressed that none of it was possible without the work of past players and coaches that created a winning environment.
"This also says a great deal about the coaches and the players before them at Cape Fear. By having a tradition of success here at Cape Fear, and each year building on what was before, it sets up moments like this to take place. I commend our girls for being brave enough to make this next step for the program."
The Sea Devils finished the regular season 15-0, and 12-0 in conference play. They will take a few days off before preparing for the NJCAA Region 10 tournament, which kicks off October 28th. The tournament takes place at Spartanburg Methodist, located in Spartanburg, SC.
Courtesy of Nick Denning