High school girls soccer: Isley, Webb lead all-county team
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — When Carson head girls soccer coach Lauren West arrived at the All-North Piedmont Conference meeting she had her player of the year sales pitch ready and was prepared to sing the praises of senior Lani Isley.
But she didn’t have to.
Everyone already knew. Carson had finished second in the league to South Iredell, but still everyone knew.
“Lani was the only player nominated for conference player of the year because every coach in our conference point-blank said there was no player in the conference that could rival her,” West said. “One coach said she was a show-stopper. She’s an all-around incredible player and easily one of the best players that has ever come through Rowan County. I can’t rave about her enough.”
Isley once had the chance to put together one of the epic goal-producing careers in county history. She totaled 19 goals and 21 assists her first two seasons, but COVID stole her junior year and she was asked to anchor Carson’s defense in a shortened senior season in which Carson was 10-4.
“As an attacking midfielder early in her career, she was the centerpiece of our offense and almost every goal we scored would begin with her,” West said. “But she would be a defender when we played a top-tier team like South Iredell. She can play any position on the field due to her ability to read the game. She’s coachable and will play anywhere and do anything that’s asked of her, and do it without complaint.”
Carson had scorers in junior Hannah Isley, Lani’s younger sister, and sophomore Makayla Borst, so Lani was asked to concentrate on defense this season.
She still scored six goals and assisted on three, while holding off countless goals against the stronger teams Carson faced.
West is a cousin of the Isleys, so she knew all about her before she got to Carson.
“I knew how talented she was and how much of an impact she’d have,” West said. “Her first soccer game for Carson was a scrimmage with Northwest Cabarrus that took place the day after Carson lost in the state basketball playoffs. She hadn’t practiced with the soccer team yet, so she didn’t start, but I put her in about 10 minutes into the game, and I watched the whole dynamic of our team change immediately to revolve around her. Not only did Lani attack the goal, she worked back to help defend, and that’s how she played every single game of her high school career. She is a workhorse with tremendous talent. She has led on and off the field, constantly working with our younger players to help them. She has positively changed the work ethic and culture of our program and our team.”
Isley became a perennial all-conference, all-county and all-region player. West said opposing coaches have raved about her performance, as well as her sportsmaship, every season.
She’s a pretty amazing athlete. She played point guard for the state-champion basketball team and has been a regular on the all-county cross country team. In track and field, she’s competed for the Cougars in everything from the throws to the jumps to the dashes.
Isley, who finished her career with 26 goals and 25 assists, is done with soccer now. She will head to N.C. State to study engineering.
SALISBURY — Sharing Rowan County Player of the Year honors with Isley is Salisbury junior Sutton Webb, the Central Carolina Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year.
The University of Georgia commit put up impossible to ignore tangible numbers in a 14-game season — 36 goals and eight assists.
She began the season with a five-goal effort on March 24 and never looked back. She produced another five-goal night in the first round of the 2A state playoffs.
She led Salisbury to a 12-2 season, including a competitive loss to the powerful, state-finalist Lake Norman Charter team.
Webb’s biggest asset is breathtaking speed, but she adds all the other attributes that a prolific scorer needs.
“She’s such a ferocious goal-scorer because she’s a tireless worker and a fierce competitor,” Salisbury head coach Matt Parrish said. “When she’s in position to score, she finishes.”
And she can finish with either foot.
She got started in soccer at age 3, and while she’s shown potential in everything from tennis to basketball to cross country, she realized early in life that soccer was her thing.
Everyone else realized it when she scored program-record six goals in a match as a freshman in the spring of 2019. She completed that season with 43 goals, 15 assists and CCC Offensive Player of the Year honors.
She scored three goals in three games, but lost the rest of 2020 to COVID.
She made the most of the 14 games the Hornets got to play this spring.
“She was the consummate team player,” Parrish said. “Despite all of her individual ability and all the potential accolades, the result and the team always came first for her. She’s humble. I’ve never heard her brag about how many goals or how many assists of even about a specific shot or move. When I talk to her, what she wants to know is how she can get better, how can she be a more effective player, how can she incorporate her teammates more.”
Even with a shortened junior season and a three-game sophomore season, Webb has totaled 82 career goals.
“She has an amazing combination of speed and skill and power, plus the right mentality for this game,” Parrish said. “She’s the complete package. We’re lucky to have her.”
Players of the Year
Sutton Webb, Salisbury — Junior scored 36 goals in 14 games and had eight assists. Central Carolina Conference Offensive Player of the Year for the second time.
Lani Isley, Carson — Senior led the Cougars’ defense and had six goals and three assists. North Piedmont Conference Player of the Year.
Coach of the Year
Matt Parrish, Salisbury — Hornets (12-2) won two road playoff games and finished sixth in the MaxPreps 2A rankings.
Makayla Borst, Carson — Sophomore scored 12 goals.
Bryleigh Beaver, South — Sophomore scored goals in South’s wins against Ledford and A.L. Brown.
Clara Brown, Salisbury — Senior was one of the defensive anchors for the Hornets.
Caroline Cardelle, Salisbury — Senior scored against state finalist Lake Norman Charter.
Mackenzie Chabala, South — Sophomore scored two goals and led team with four assists.
Lindsey Conrad, Carson — Versatile senior had eight goals and eight assists.
Lindsey Cook, East — Sophomore led the Mustangs with five goals.
Lesli Guerrero, West — Sophomore was a leader for a young team.
Hannah Isley, Carson — Junior totaled 26 goals and seven assists for the Cougars.
Anna Mead, West — Sophomore led the Falcons with 16 goals and added three assists.
Piper Muire, Salisbury — Senior was recognized as Central Carolina Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Daphne Robinson, North — Sophomore goalkeeper was the top player for the Cavaliers.
Lillie Rusher, Salisbury — Senior back also made an impact on offense and plans to play at Catawba.
Hannah Schmeltzer, Salisbury — Sophomore goalkeeper made 21 saves against state finalist Lake Norman Charter.
Emelyn Sotelo, Carson — Senior had two goals and four assists
Brittany Vanhoose, West — Sophomore totaled eight goals and nine assists.