Second time is the charm: Eastern returns to championship game for second year in a row; this time comes away with first place trophy
By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Eastern Alamance’s girls’ soccer team was back on the big stage Saturday.
The Eagles put on a show this time.
In what seemed unusually dominating for a championship game, Eastern won the Class 3-A state title by defeating South Point 4-0 on Saturday at UNC Greensboro Soccer Stadium.
“Refusing to lose twice in a row,” senior forward Molly Widderich said. “We would have done literally anything to win this game.”
The Eagles did everything necessary from start to finish.
Eastern was the state runner-up last June. This time, the Eagles secured the program’s first state championship.
“Ever since that last whistle blew last year, we’ve been thinking about this,” Widderich said. “We were surprised how well it went.”
Abby Brinker and Widderich each scored two goals. The Eagles (20-0-1) led 3-0 at halftime.
“We prepared all season for this,” Brinker said. “We knew we wanted it bad.”
Cheered on by a supportive crowd, Eagles had a positive outlook going into the game and that didn’t waver.
“We kind of knew the vibe that would be here,” defender Mackenzie Webber, the coach’s daughter, said of playing in another state final. “We didn’t need to be nervous this time. We knew we were a great team and we’re going to go out here and win.”
Eastern tied its season opener against Chapel Hill and then rattled off 20 consecutive victories. The Eagles capped it in style.
The euphoria was endorsed by Mackenzie Webber.
“It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever felt before,” she said.
Her dad agreed.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Eastern coach Bob Webber said. “These girls have put their heart and souls into it.”
Brinker posted the first two goals, and 8:45 remained in the first half. The Eagles threatened a couple more times, but appeared done before the half. But Widderich had other ideas and converted for goal number 3 with 18 seconds to play before the break.
Widderich’s second goal came 6:13 into the second half.
Goalkeeper Karsyn Johnson came up with four saves for the team’s 14th shutout of the season. Most of the pressure was applied at the other end by the Eagles.
Photos from the championship game
After: Lining up for awards
After: With championship banner
Support in the stands
Some photos (first, third, and fourth, above)
courtesy of Jen Webber, Imajenation Photography
“We had a killer game,” Mackenzie Webber said.
Widderich, Ainsley Dial, Ryen Gibbs and Meredith Doi all had assists.
Coach Webber said it was appropriate that Brinker, who ended up with 34 goals, and Widderich, who racked up a team-high 54 goals, produced the goals. They’ve been good in those roles.
“We just surrounded those two with nine other athletes,” he said. “We had the firepower.”
The Eagles said they appreciated the fan turnout for the final.
“All the support we had really made a difference,” Widderich said.
That came through loud and clear.
“All the Eastern Alamance community that drove over here to Greensboro to be a part of it,” Coach Webber said.
And they witnessed history.