Shorthanded Lady Crusaders fall to No. 2 team

Apr. 4—No. 2 beat No. 4 on the soccer pitch Tuesday evening, but one can forgive fourth-ranked Grace Christian for its 5-2 loss to second-ranked and undefeated Forsyth Country Day for this one. Basketball had something to do with it.

The Lady Crusaders went into this showdown of highly ranked NCISAA 3A women's soccer teams without two of its team captains and leading performers in seniors Serenity McNair and Sarah Strong, both of whom are out of town for the next several days. Strong competed in the McDonald's High School All-American women's basketball game Tuesday in Houston, where she had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds as her East team defeated the West 98-74. She was voted co-MVP of the game along with South Carolina recruit Joyce Edwards of Camden (S.C.), who Strong played against during the high school season.

McNair, Strong and the rest of the Lady Crusaders then traveled to Indiana, where they will face IMG Academy today at 10 a.m. in the Chipotle Nationals, a showcase of some of the nation's top high school teams this season, and could play two more games through Saturday if they keep winning.

On the soccer pitch, the Lady Crusaders knew they were up against it, facing Forsyth Country Day (7-0) without two of their best players. But the way this match played out, the Furies may not sleep well knowing if the teams meet again in the postseason, Grace (5-2) will be at full strength. Even without Strong and McNair, the Lady Crusaders took the fight to Forsyth and played them to a 1-1 deadlock at intermission.

The Furies finally got Grace to crack in the second half, and scored three goals in a span of nine and a half minutes between the 47th and 56th minutes to turn a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 game. Each team scored an additional goal late in the match to produce the final result.

Without Strong and McNair, Forsyth had a significant edge in possession time and was able to put heavy pressure on junior keeper Landry Hicks, who had 23 saves but was unable to stop everything that the Furies sent at her.

Sarah Meggs had a goal and an assist and Aly McLean scored one goal for the Lady Crusaders.

Grace wraps up its soccer week with a match at Thales-Rolesville on Thursday. The Lady Crusaders host DASH on Monday evening at 4 p.m.