WHS girls' soccer team hosts Olympic in playoffs
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
The Pioneers go into the game with a 14-5-1 record after finishing third in the Northwestern Conference standings.
Watauga is 4-3 in its last seven games going into the state playoffs after beating Hibriten, Patton, South Caldwell and Ashe County, but falling to Hickory, St. Stephens and Fred T. Foard.
Olympic, which plays in the South Meck 8, finished with a 14-9-0 record, 6-8 in the league. The Trojans won four straight before dropping two of their last three games.
Watauga coach Brittany Bolick was still in the process of finding something out about Olympic, who plays in a tough conference for girls' soccer.
Olympic's scores have indicated the highs and lows that comes with athletics. The Trojans beat Harding 9-0, Berry Academy 10-1 and Rocky River 9-0 during its season-ending stretch of seven games, but also lost 10-1 to Providence and 6-0 to Ardrey Kell.
"They've played some great competition in that area," Bolick said. "Their scores are 9-0, 7-0, 10-1, so either those teams they are playing against are phenomenal, or they're just not very good. So, it's really hard to tell when the scores are like that."
St. Stephens beat Watauga 6-3 on May 6, but the six goals the Pioneers surrendered that game were three more than any other game they've played. Watauga lost to Foard 1-0 on May 9, beat Ashe 2-1 on May 8 and beat South Caldwell 3-1 on May 2.
"We really can't control what they are going to bring and what they are going to offer," Bolick said. "I told the girls, which is what I really believe, is that you can't control what they are going to bring. The only thing we can control is ourselves and we decide our own destiny. If we play the way we want to play and dominate the game and play our style of play out there, then we're tough to beat."
Watauga has injury problems to work out before tonight. Four Pioneers suffered concussions last week, and another player came down with mononucleosis.
Bolick would obviously like to be at full strength when the playoffs starts, but knows that's unrealistic. She is hopeful that some of the players are ready to return, but also has faith in the players coming off the bench to fill in for the missing starters.
"I'm not banking on a lot of returnees for tomorrow's game, but I'm hopeful we can see a few minutes from those girls," Bolick said. "There is a reason why all of the girls are on the roster. It's because they can play."
Included in Watauga's walking wounded is starting goalkeeper Heather Ostwalt, who suffered a concussion last week. Her backup, Mackenzie Nelson, has Bolick's confidence.
"(Ostwalt) won't probably be able to play," Bolick said. "I think Mackenzie has done a great job. Both are excellent keepers who have pushed each other this year. I have confidence in both keepers."
Despite the rash of injuries, Bolick likes how the Pioneers are playing going into the tournament.
"I like how we are possessing the ball," Bolick said. "Last week, even in the games we lost we played well as far as possessionally and being aggressive and getting shots on goal. We have to finish our shots and shut down the other team's opportunities."