APA prepares for title match with Carolina Day Saturday
Members of the Arendell Parrott Academy soccer team practice Wednesday in anticipation of Saturday’s contest with Carolina Day. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
The road to a state title is 80 minutes away in Arendell Parrott Academy’s own backyard.
On Saturday, APA faces Carolina Day School with the winner hoisting a state championship trophy. The Patriots are hosting the match, making it to the title game for the first time since 2003 in girls’ soccer with a chance to win their first championship in the sport.
The Wildcats come in with a very stingy defense, allowing just 17 goals in 14 games, including seven shutouts. The Patriots have scored 97 goals in 18 contests, setting up a classic matchup between strengths, one APA coach Shivar Person isn’t taking lightly.
“We know (Carolina Day is) playing their best soccer right now,” Person said. “They’ve picked up three upsets in this tournament, winning all of their games on the road. They’re a very strong team defensively and they’re hungry, so we’ve got to match the energy. Hopefully, we can continue to play with the type of intensity we’ve shown in the last two games — we have to act like we belong on this stage, because we do. If we can do that and all of the little things, there aren’t many teams who could come here and beat us Saturday.”
The teams have played two mutual opponents, with Carolina Day beating Asheville School 5-3 on April 9, 3-1 three weeks later and defeating Raleigh St. David’s 4-0 May 9. Parrott beat St. David’s 9-0 April 9 and 8-2 April 25 before dispatching Asheville School May 11 5-1.
Alex Melk, APA’s leading scorer, said a complete game will be needed for victory.
“It’s going to take the whole team working together,” Melk said. “On offense, we’ve got to take as many shots as possible and test the goalie.”
For Gabby Carriere and Gisell Cervantes, Saturday becomes a chance to win a second state title this season. On Oct. 27, 2018, the duo helped the Patriots win their first ever volleyball championship after a five-set thriller against Caldwell Academy. Cervantes, who transferred from Greene Central last season, said the transition would be even better with a victory Saturday.
“It would be so amazing to get two rings back to back, but these girls had an even bigger impact on me,” Cervantes said. “They’re more than friends, they’re family — they accepted me and it would mean the world to take this next step with them toward a state championship.”
For four seniors — Carriere, Karmen Heath, Brooke Holmes and Lindsey Thomas — this is their last game, so to finish with a state title would be a dream.
“It would mean a lot because I’ve been here so long and it would be a fitting end to my career at Parrott Academy,” Thomas said.
The game is at 7 p.m. Saturday at Parrott. All patrons supporting the Patriots are encouraged to wear red.