Wheatmore’s streak ends in state final loss

Wheatmore’s Natalie Bowman, left, Izabella Ringley and Mikalah Walls head off the field toward coach Ricky Maness after the Class 2-A state final for girls’ soccer Saturday at UNC Greensboro. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)

GREENSBORO – It took two years for Wheatmore to build a record-setting streak in girls’ soccer.

That was gone in a matter of minutes in Saturday afternoon’s Class 2-A state championship game.

Manteo overcame a second-half deficit, scoring four goals in a 13½-minute stretch on the way to dethroning the Warriors in a 5-3 result at UNC Greensboro Soccer Stadium.

“My hat is off to them,” Wheatmore coach Ricky Maness said. “My hat is off to our kids, too.”

Wheatmore’s state-record 49-game winning streak was dashed despite a partisan crowd that came anticipating another championship.

“Enjoy what we had,” Maness said. “It’s an honor to get here two years straight.”

And for a while, it looked like the Warriors might add to their legacy. They led 1-0 at halftime and again 2-1 early in the second half after countering Manteo’s first goal.

But Manteo converted a penalty kick with 17:22 remaining after a Wheatmore handball in the box.

Again, the Warriors nearly responded, but a free kick clanked off the crossbar. Manteo went the other way and took its first lead with 14:20 remaining and boosted the margin to 4-2 about six minutes later.

Ellie Garrison’s second goal of the game for Wheatmore came with 6:02 remaining before another Manteo penalty kick helped seal the outcome.

“Our youth really got exposed,” Maness said. “Three goals caused because of errors. … We weathered the storm a few games in the past.”

Maness said the Warriors seemed worn down by the mid-afternoon heat, though Manteo wore black jerseys that might have put the Redskins more susceptible to the conditions.

Wheatmore benefited from goalkeeper Lucy Lockwood’s presence. She came through with numerous stops that, for a long time, might have been considered game-defining moments. She had 10 saves, though Manteo converted on both of its penalty kicks.

“This came could have been even worse their way,” Maness said in noting the Redskins’ strong stretches.

Summer Bowman scored Wheatmore’s first-half goal on an assist from Garrison. Garrison’s first goal came on a header from Natalie Bowman’s free kick.

Leading 2-1, Summer Bowman’s shot off the crossbar nearly made it a two-goal advantage for the Warriors.

Meanwhile, Garrison was often bottled up by Manteo defenders. She also provided an assist.

“Ellie just ran out of gas,” Maness said. “They made her tired.”

Kenzie Flynn had two goals and an assist and Kiley Eckard posted two goals for Manteo (25-0-2), which won the program’s first state championship.

By Bob Sutton