Lady Crusaders down Gaston, move to semis

May 14—No matter what classification Grace Christian plays in, its women's soccer team seems to be heard from.

The Lady Crusaders became the second Grace team of the weekend to earn a spot in the semifinals of the NCISAA playoffs Saturday afternoon, as Grace downed visiting Gaston Christian 5-1 to earn a rematch Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Cape Fear Academy, the state's top-ranked 3A team.

Fourth-ranked Grace (12-3-1) faced the Hurricanes in the second match of the regular season, traveling to the Wilmington school on March 7 and falling behind 3-1 in the first half. The Lady Crusaders shut Cape Fear out 1-0 in the second half, but still came a goal short. Cape Fear has gone on to an 18-1 season today, losing only in a March 23 game against Charlotte Latin.

Other than playing each other, the only common opponent faced by both teams was John Paul II Catholic, who CFA beat twice by scores of 1-0 and 2-0 on April 19 and 30, respectively. Grace defeated them 3-2 on April 9.

In Saturday's match, the Lady Crusaders received two goals from Sarah Meggs and one each from Piper Hicks, Serenity McNair, and Aly McLean. All four players each had one assist, as well.

The Crusaders were unofficially credited with a 20-9 edge in shots on goal and keeper Landry Hicks with five saves.

If the Lady Crusaders can pull off the upset today, they will face either Forsyth Country Day or Coastal Christian for the state championship on Saturday. Those are the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds, respectively, so Grace would be on the road either way. It would also mark the second season in a row where the team made the state finals without being a top-two seed. A year ago, the Lady Crusaders played for the 2A state title after making a run from the 6 seed. They won the 2022 1A state championship as the top seed.