Girls soccer championship preview: storylines, predictions, player rankings, and key facts about each matchup

Girls soccer championship preview: storylines, predictions, player rankings, and key facts about each matchup

Below we preview the N.C. High School Athletic Association girls soccer state championships with storylines to keep in mind, fun facts, a ranking of the best players, and revisiting our own predictions and rankings.

7 PM — 4A championship: Marvin Ridge (14-4-5) vs Ashley (23-0-2)
11 AM — 1A championship: Christ the King (18-3) vs Woods Charter (22-4-1)
2:30 PM — 3A championship: South Point (18-2-2) vs Jacksonville (20-1-4)
6 PM — 2A championship: Seaforth (24-1-1) vs Pine Lake Prep (20-1-1)

Storylines to Know

The road to Matthews: For the first time, the Mecklenburg County SportsPlex in Matthews will get to host an NCHSAA championship. The soccer titles have bounced around quite a bit in the last decade. N.C. State was a good host in terms of atmosphere and parking, but struggled to contain the crowds when one game was in the second half and several fans of the next game were filing in. Koka Booth Field in Cary was great for playing surface but terrible on atmosphere and the parking/seating situation could’ve been better. MacPherson Stadium at Bryan Park was great on parking and atmosphere, but the facility and playing surface left a lot to be desired. UNC-Greensboro’s stadium was the best mix of all those elements so far. Here’s hoping the new venue on the block can answer the quest to find a suitable home. Most notably, it became the host of some big-time high school football showdowns between Butler and Independence.

Big day for the 704: Not only does the greater Charlotte area get to host an NCHSAA championship for the first time in decades (in any sport), but all four games have a team from a neighboring county to Mecklenburg: Pine Lake Prep (Iredell County), Christ the King (Cabarrus County), Marvin Ridge (Union County), and South Point (Gaston County). No charter buses needed! There’s nothing wrong for expecting a few state championship games to be in the state’s largest city, and this could be the beginning of a new era.

The motivations: We’ll have more on this in a second, but there are some motivated teams in this year’s state championship. Christ the King is going for a three-peat. Woods Charter is trying to avoid three straight runner-up finishes. Pine Lake Prep has broken through after taking down two-time West champ Wheatmore in the West regional final. Seaforth has broken through in its first year with seniors. South Point is back in the final since losing in it a year ago. So too is Ashley. Jacksonville, like Pine Lake Prep, avenged last year’s loss in the regional final (though this time it was a win over Western Alamance, after losing to Eastern Alamance last year).

Three national U17 players on one pitch: Scroll down to our player lists, but there are three players from two schools representing three different countries on their national U17 teams.

Unique Feats and Factoids

  • This will mark the first time in NCHSAA history that two teams have met three straight times in a girls soccer championship. At least twice by my count have two teams met three times in a four-year span, but never three straight times. Christ the King defeated Woods Charter 3-0 in 2022 (a game famous for Woods not getting a single shot on goal) and 1-0 last year in a game that had to be completed on Sunday due to lightning in the area.
  • Ashley is hoping to carry on a trend of 4A teams who go from runner-up to champion in 365 days (give or take a few).  It’s been almost consistent since 2012, when Green Hope finished runner-up to Hough. Green Hope came back and won the 2013 title. Panther Creek then followed suit: runner-up in 2014, champion in 2015. Then Providence relayed that 2015 runner-up finish into a 2016 title. Last year, Ardrey Kell got its long-awaited title after a runner-up finish in 2022. That’s 12 years with four teams going from second to first in the ensuing season. Interestingly enough, two other teams managed to go from runner-up to state champ during that time span (Cardinal Gibbons and Myers Park) just not in back-to-back years. Can Ashley, last year’s 4A runner-up make it five teams in 13 years?
  • Woods Charter and South Point may not be 4A, but they’d sure like to do that whole “runner-up to state champ” thing.
  • The only game with a team that has never played in the state championship before comes in 2A, where neither Pine Lake Prep nor Seaforth had broken through before.
  • Only 10 miles separate conference opponents Pine Lake Prep and Christ the King. Two of CTK’s three losses this year came to PLP.
  • Woods Charter and Seaforth are only about 9 miles apart. The two Chatham County foes are not, however, in the same conference.
  • ADMs of each team in the state championship: Ashley (2,071), Marvin Ridge (2,050), Jacksonville (1,429), Seaforth (1,059), South Point (978), Pine Lake Prep (680), Christ the King (416), Woods Charter (181)
  • Total championship count among the finalists: 3 (Marvin Ridge in 2010, Christ the King in 2022 and 2023)
  • Total title appearances among the finalists: 8 (Christ the King and Woods Charter have 2 each, Jacksonville, South Point, Marvin Ridge and Ashley each have 1)

Best Players


  1. Karina Peat, Ashley — returning first team all-state selection has spent time on the USWNT U17 team
  2. Sofia Viana, Seaforth — returning third team all-state selection has been on the Brazilian U17 team
  3. Kiley Peat, Ashley — like her twin Karina, she’s committed to Louisville
  4. Kieran Bradley, Ashley — a THIRD player who has suited up for a national U17 squad? Bradley has played for the Philippines
  5. Avery Garrett, Pine Lake Prep — creates opportunities for the Pride
  6. Caitlin Erman, Seaforth — the ying to Viana’s yang; has 49 goals and 43 assists
  7. Maddyson Kerley, Pine Lake Prep — steady in the midfield and can put away a goal
  8. Leyla Noronha, Woods Charter — will be needed to create scoring opportunities if the Wolves are to break through
  9. Landyn Wessels, Jacksonville —  wears the 10 for the dangerous Cardinals; Valparaiso recruit
  10. Mackenzie Morrow, Jacksonville — not afraid to go at goal; Navy recruit


  1. Maggie Roepke, Ashley — Temple recruit leads the back line
  2. Elizabeth Navola, Christ the King — one of the state’s best goalkeepers; Wofford recruit
  3. Jessica Mattson, Marvin Ridge — the Furman recruit is an electric outside back who can carry it forward
  4. Azumi Oka, Jacksonville — went from playing up top to dropping back this year to make the Cardinals better defensively; UNC-Greensboro recruit
  5. Brianna Pacholski, Christ the King — the MVP of last year’s title game is a holding midfielder; Tampa (D2) recruit
  6. Morgan Tucker, Ashley — can make a highlight-worthy save when called upon
  7. Riley Donnelly, Jacksonville — the Mars Hill (D2) recruit has helped the Cardinals give up just 12 goals all year.
  8. Camryn McKee, Marvin Ridge — wins a lot of 50-50 balls as a holding midfielder
  9. Katie Leonard, Seaforth — goalkeeper has had to stand tall in back-to-back 1-0 wins
  10. Elizabeth Perri, Pine Lake Prep — defender; Washington & Lee commit

Revisiting Predictions, and Making More

May the record show that we had almost all of these finalists ranked in our preseason rankings! Ashley has been our No. 1 team all year long. Jacksonville started at No. 11 and was ranked every week. Woods Charter started at No. 20, Pine Lake Prep at No. 23, and Christ the King at No. 25. Marvin Ridge was ranked a few weeks and got as high as No. 11, and Seaforth jumped in at No. 22 just before playoffs. South Point was the only finalist that never cracked the top 25.

As for predicting if any of them would be left standing, we did REALLY well!

We nailed the 1A and 2A matchup perfectly, and also called Ashley and Jacksonville. Not sure anyone had Marvin Ridge getting through the West after only nine regular-season wins, or South Point getting back to the title after losing 52-goal scorer Grace Smith.

There’s no reason to change up these predictions now, as all four of our predicted champions are still alive: give us Ashley, Jacksonville, Pine Lake Prep, and Woods Charter.