Prep soccer: Wheatmore’s Garrison puts on show in potential final home game

Members of Wheatmore’s girls’ soccer team pose for a photo after winning a second-round game in the Class 2-A state playoffs. (Bob Sutton / Randolph Record)

TRINITY – Ellie Garrison has scored more high school goals than any other player in North Carolina girls’ soccer history, so the second-round game of the Class 2-A state playoffs had fitting elements.

It might have been Garrison’s final game on Wheatmore’s field, and she sure made the most of it. Garrison scored five times as the Warriors breezed past Mount Pleasant 9-0 on Thursday night.

“It’s a very important game and it just means a lot to have played on this field for four different years,” Garrison said. “With a new team every year, but the same coach. It’s just like a family. It’s just great to step on the field every single time.”

The sixth-seeded Warriors (15-4) are bidding to make a third consecutive appearance in a state championship game. The quest for that continues Monday night at third-seeded Wilkes Central (18-3) in the West Region.

Garrison said the number of teammates she has had at various levels of experience means that each season has brought something new.

“Being with all these new people,” she said. “People who have played for years. People who are just now starting. It’s a big variety. It’s just fun to be able to teach players and then be helping other players and also learn (from) players and work off them.”

State record-holder Ellie Garrison of Wheatmore was happy with another victory in the state playoffs. (Bob Sutton / Randolph Record)

If it was her final home game, it came with a variety pack of goals. It pushed her total of career goals to 271 across four seasons.

“It makes the game more fun not having repetitive goals,” Garrison said. “It just brings a little bit of more excitement to the game for myself.”

She opened the scoring against 11th-seeded Mount Pleasant just 88 seconds into the game on a nifty move. Then came a shot from the perimeter for the second goal.

Garrison’s third goal of the night resulted from weaving through defenders. The last goal of the first half came on a penalty kick, with the ball conveniently bouncing in off the left post.

“Very scary,” she said of seeing the ball smash against the post.

She had a breakaway tally for the last of her goals, outrunning opposing players while dribbling into the box for a delivery.

“There’s always a little voice in the back of my head, ‘Let’s go score some more. Let’s do it again,’ ” Garrison said.

That thought has played out in reality time and time again. It all seems natural for Garrison.

“I just come out every time on the field and try to do my best and support my teammates through it all because I know they’re supporting me,” she said.

Natalie Bowman scored three goals and Kynnedi Routh had the other goal in the matchup with Mount Pleasant.

Bowman had a nice mix of scoring conversions. Her first goal came when she maneuvered around the referee to find a shooting lane. Her second goal was off a rebound for the first tally of the second half. She ended the game via the mercy rule by scoring with 18:52 remaining after breaking free from the defense.

Coach Rick Massey said Garrison, along with Bowman and older sister Summer Bowman, provided incredible recognition for Wheatmore.

“I was just a lucky coach who was at Wheatmore,” Massey said.

Garrison wasn’t the only record-setter on the field Thursday night.

Senior goalkeeper Lucy Lockwood recorded her 25th career shutout, tying a school record.

For the players, a shutout comes with rewards. Massey said he wanted to provide recognition to players other than those with offensive numbers. Shutouts are rewarded with pizza, or sometimes he’ll mix it up and bring donuts to celebrate shutouts.

Other results …

Also in Class 2-A, No. 13 seed Providence Grove was eliminated in a penalty-kick shootout by fourth-seeded West Davidson. West Davidson prevailed 4-3 in the shootout after the teams were tied 1-1 through overtimes.

Patience Keller scored in the second half for Providence Grove (14-5-2).

** In Class 3-A, fifth-seeded Hickory ousted 12th-seeded Asheboro 7-0. The Blue Comets finished with a 16-5-1 record.

** In Class 1-A, third-seeded Uwharrie Charter Academy received goals from Jazmin Palma, Reese Craven and Lily Charlesworth to top No. 14 seed Cornerstone Charter 3-1. Palma also had an assist.

That sets up UCA (15-5) for a third-round game against No. 22 seed Bradford Prep.

By Bob Sutton