Wheatmore girls hit big stage with spot in state final

Wheatmore’s Kara Comer, left, and Summer Bowman hug Ellie Garrison after her penalty-kick goal against Wilkes Central in the Class 2-A West Region final Tuesday night at Wilkes Central in Wilkesboro. Wheatmore (PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL)

It’s hard to imagine there’s more to accomplish for the Wheatmore girls’ soccer team.

Yet the biggest prize is still out there for the Warriors.

They hold a 24-0 record and the state record for goals (191) in a season.

There’s one more chance to add to those accomplishments. They take on Clinton (25-2) in Friday night’s Class 2-A state championship game at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary.

“We’re honored to play in the state (final),” Wheatmore coach Ricky Maness said. “It has been an emotional season.”

And a great season as well.

Naturally, confidence is high on within the Wheatmore team.

“We can do it,” forward Ellie Garrison said. “We’re (deeper in the tournament) than we got last year.”

Garrison scored all four Wheatmore goals in the Wilkes Central game. Her tally late in regulation extended the game.

“Looking a little bleak there for a while” Maness said. “We’re down 2-1. I’m thinking if it happens, it happens.”

Two of Garrison’s goals came on penalty kicks.

Garrison has 76 goals this season, marking a state record for a sophomore season.

“We break records every week,” she said.

While the season has been full of lopsided victories, recent rounds of the playoffs have been accompanied with more challenges. Maness said he likes what he has seen in those situations.

“They never quit fighting,” he said. “It’s a lot of signals and signs (of good things).”

Clinton made it to the final with Tuesday night’s 3-1 home victory against East Carteret. The Dark Horses had a larger scare with a 3-2 overtime victory against Raleigh Charter in the previous round after outscoring their first three playoff opponents by a combined score of 23-1.

There is a bit of history between Clinton and Wheatmore. They were both in the East Region in 2019, with Clinton posting an 8-0 victory in the third round of the state playoffs.

By Bob Sutton