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Five players and a coach represented talent from the Johnstonian News readership area on the North Region team in the Powerade State Games of North Carolina high school girls soccer tournament in Charlotte on June 22-23.
Smithfield-Selma players Kaylee Myer and Christina Martinez, Neuse Charter’s Delaney and Dargan Harris and Princeton’s Veronica Blackman were all chosen to play on the region team, which represented players selected from an 18-county area that spanned from Person County along the Virginia border to Robeson County at the South Carolina line and included Wake, Durham, Nash and Cumberland counties. Spartans head coach Kate McGrath also served as an assistant for the team.
“I think that’s awesome to have such a great showing,” McGrath said. “This is my first year doing it, but last year I don’t think we had many (from Johnston County) to be on it.”
Led by area talent that played at Queens University Sports Complex, the North Region team (0-2-1) finished in third place on the weekend. In game 1 — a 2-2 tie with the West Region — Martinez scored a goal to set the pace for the offense. Later that same day, the team fell 3-1 to the East Region before being beaten 6-0 by a South Region squad in the final day of competition.
Despite no wins, McGrath said the experience gave area players an important chance to face other top talent and display their skills in front of college coaches, which is an opportunity that may not be there every time the players take the field at high school games.
“That’s a huge opportunity because speaking from my girls, a lot of them don’t play club ball but this gives them an opportunity to play in front of college coaches,” McGrath said. “The opportunity is huge for us in Johnston County and gives us such a great recognition for the girls in our county.”
To round out players from Johnston County, Taylor Campbell from West Johnston and Clayton’s Megan Flockhart also played on the team. Clayton soccer coach Joseph Mott served as an assistant coach alongside McGrath to round out a roster and coaching staff that included more participants with roots in Johnston County schools than anywhere else.