GREENSBORO — In the end, Morgan Beane and her teammates on the South team in the Powerade State Games of North Carolina’s women’s soccer tournament may just have been a little bit tougher.
On an afternoon where the temperatures hit 95 degrees in the UNC-Greensboro Soccer Stadium, Beane, a rising junior at Forbush High School, and 19 other top soccer players from around the region rallied to beat the West 3-1 and claim the silver medal in the two-day showcase featuring top players from around the state.
Beane, whose Forbush team reached the Elite Eight of the NCHSAA 2A state playoffs last fall, played a key role in the defensive alignment of the South team. She defended her team’s goal from the center back position throughout the medal-clinching match, and was involved in several important plays during the contest.
The women’s soccer tournament at the State Games is organized into four teams of 20 players each, from different regions of North Carolina. Tryouts for the team were held throughout the spring, and Beane earned a spot on the South team, coached by Daniel Villa of High Point Central High School. She was the only local player chosen to any of the women’s State Games teams this year.
On Saturday, the South team held off the North, a region which included the entire Raleigh/Durham area, in a tight 1-0 battle where Beane and the other South defenders played a key role in securing the win. However, two and a half hours later, the team was back in action on the practice field adjacent to the main soccer stadium, and lost to the East team, consisting mostly of players from the Jacksonville and Wilmington areas, 4-2. This didn’t take the South out of the running to win the tournament, but it did mean they would need help on Sunday.
The final matches of the tournament were played Sunday at 12:30 p.m., with the South facing the West and the East taking on the North. There were several different possible outcomes, depending on the result of the two matches, with the South having a chance at anything from a gold medal to nothing at all. However, if it won the match, it was assured of not going home empty-handed.
Neither team scored in an evenly-matched first half in which Beane swept away a handful of potential threats at her team’s goal. Things picked up quite a bit in the second half, which saw both teams eventually start to wear down in the heat that intensified during the early afternoon hours.
A minute and a half after the break, the South was on the attack and earned a corner kick. Off the corner, the ball went to Caley Justice (Northwest Guilford) who took a shot only to have to stopped by a West fullback. Four minutes later, the South’s Dalia Hernandez (Forest Hills), a speedy striker who later played a major role in the game, headed a ball over the net.
The West’s Hannah Haynes (Thomas Jefferson Academy) drew first blood in 50th minute, on a play where the South defense broke down and Beane, her team’s last line of defense, was caught in a 2-on-1 breakaway. Haynes managed to elude a direct challenge from Beane and score to give her team a 1-0 lead.
However, that would be all that the West would ever get against the South defense. Beane and teammates such as Heidi Vernon (Rockingham) and Taylor Comer (Wheatmore) shut things down the rest of the way, and Beane at one point broke up another potential breakaway by the South. In the 55th minute, Hernandez got free outside the left post and found the back of the net, tying the match. The South sensed that their opposition was slowing down in the heat, and in the 58th minute, Jennifer Lopez (West Davidson) scored to give her team the lead.
In the 70th minute, Noel Harris (Greensboro Day) scored for the South to all but clinch the win and guarantee a medal.
Unfortunately, to have a shot at winning the tournament, the South needed for the North to knock off the East, and they lost 2-1. The East duly finished the tournament unbeaten and claimed the gold medals, with the South in second place at 2-1 in the tournament.
Beane is eligible to play in the tournament for two more years and seek to win a medal a little shinier than the one she brought home on Sunday.
John Cate is Sports Editor for the Mount Airy News. Contact him via Twitter at @johncate73.