Greenfield head coach Ben Forbes discusses strategy with Blake Lantz during Friday's NCISAA 1-A semifinals match against Kerr-Vance at Gillette Athletic Complex.
While my objectivity was in place during Friday's N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A girls soccer semifinals match Friday at Gillette Athletic Complex, I have to admit that I was hoping Greenfield would defeat Kerr-Vance Academy.
A Knights win would have set up an all-Wilson final against defending champion Community Christian. It would have made for an army of story lines but it didn't happen because Kerr-Vance scored the winning goal with about 12 seconds left in the second overtime. It was, amazingly, KVA's third 1-0 defeat of Greenfield this season and all three times, the decisive goal came late in the match.
But I was impressed with Greenfield, which has 10 of its 19 players in 10th grade or lower. Many of the Knights' top players are still in middle school. Even more impressive was the manner in which veteran Greenfield coach Ben Forbes and his staff, Stephen Taylor and Ray Warenda, handled these young ladies.
I've been on the Greenfield boys soccer team sidelines many times and let's just say that Forbes has a completely different tack handling the lads compared to the lassies. The sights and sounds of a fall soccer match at Greenfield wouldn't be complete without Forbes, Taylor or Warenda pointing out — in great volume at times — the mistakes of their troops.
But Friday night, in a state semifinal match, the three men were gently parceling out the kind of advice you'd expect to hear in preseason training camp. Obviously, it takes a seasoned hand to understand the nuances of coaching girls and boys in the same sport.
But they've been successful in both the spring and the fall. While the girls fell short of matching the boys' state title last fall, Greenfield certainly has found its way back to being a state contender again in the spring. With young players like Walker Finklea, Cameron Johnson, Kenan Barnes, Sarah Bizzell, Baker Bedgood, Blake Lantz and Sawyer Parrish returning next season, Greenfield should be one of the favorites to win it all.
But until then, let's see if Rhine Sharp and his CCS Cyclones can do it again. Community Christian won its first state title last spring in breathtaking fashion, going to overtime or a shootout in all its postseason games. This year, CCS has cruised, even thrashing top-seeded Wayne Country Day 4-1 in Friday's first semifinal.
If they can beat Kerr-Vance on Saturday, it will have been quite a run for the Cyclones, who should be a contender again next spring with youngsters like Meredith Sharp, Greysen Smith, Jesslyn Boyette, Kathryn Smith and Tateyana Hurlbert a year older and wiser.