High school girls soccer: South’s Schleyer was all over the place

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 25, 2024

By Mike London

LANDIS — South Rowan’s vocal and versatile senior Ava Schleyer led the Raiders to a 9-9 season that included a 7-0 record against four county opponents.

The Post’s Rowan County Player of the Year, Schleyer was listed on South’s roster as a midfielder/defender/forward, and that was accurate. She played some at all three levels.

“She absolutely could play anywhere on the field,” South head coach Sarah Safrit Meadows said. “There were teams we played that we needed to put her in the back to play defense, and there were teams that we could slow down by playing her in the midfield. There also were times when we needed her on the edge as a striker, and she could push up and energize our offense.”

An April game against East Rowan provided a good example of Schleyer pushing up. The Mustangs led South 1-0 at the half.

“I remember South put Schleyer at forward for the second half, and the game changed,” East coach Andrew Poston said. “They scored three goals in a hurry.”

Schleyer scored two of them.

She did focus on defense about 80 percent of the time, but she found enough offensive opportunities to score eight goals.

“I always tried to find the place on the field where I could help the team the most,” Schleyer said. “I could let our coaches know what I was seeing out there, and they would listen to my suggestions.”

Schleyer played enough club soccer to develop a higher skill level than most of her teammates and opponents, but she made a decision a while back to focus on academics in college. The senior is headed to UNC Wilmington to study international business.

Meadows said a number of college coaches have asked about her after seeing the Raiders play, but college soccer isn’t in her plans.

“I never felt that pull to play college soccer,” Schleyer said. “When I was playing club, I was the girl that was looking to pass.”

Her last season of club soccer was during her freshman year.

She didn’t have a sophomore season at South. She wrecked a knee, tore an ACL, in the opening minutes of a scrimmage with Salisbury.

She came back strong as a junior, establishing herself as one of South’s top players and making the all-county team.

This season she’s racked up a number of accolades, including All-South Piedmont Conference, and she’ll likely be on the All-Region team.

“She’s been everything you would want a senior, a leader and a captain to be,” Meadows said. “After we speak to the players after a match, we always ask if any of the players has anything to add. Well, Ava always had something to add. She brought a lot of energy to the team, and it always was good energy. Her teammates looked up to her because of her skill set and because of her positive attitude,”

Despite a perfect season against West Rowan, Carson, East Rowan and North Rowan, South finished 9-9 overall and came up a win short of making the 3A state playoffs.

There were some stout teams at the top of the South Piedmont Conference. Lake Norman Charter was outstanding, while Northwest Cabarrus was very good. Central Cabarrus and Robinson were solid playoff teams.

“There were some games that we knew going into it that the outcome might not be great,” Schleyer said. “But it still was important for us to fight for every goal, and we did. We’d set small goals for those games, try to limit the strong teams in our league to a certain number of goals. There were things to learn in every game we played. Our coaches did a good job of keeping the motivation up.”

South observed its Senior Night celebration against rival Carson.

Schleyer scored one of the goals in a 2-1 victory.

“Senior Night was my favorite game and will be a great memory for all of us,” Schleyer said. “As much as South Rowan has made me love the game, I can leave soccer behind now.”


All-Rowan County soccer

South — Ava Schleyer, Chloe Tracy, Cailynn Withers, Holly DiStefano, Brooke Oehler

Salisbury — Maddie Crabb, Stella Koontz, Cora Wymbs, Addie Griffith, Lola Koontz

East — Daisy Berry, Lillian Jeffers, Iyanna Lynch Berry, Arden Miller

West — Tempe Jones, Ana Pacheco, Olyvia Brown, Jisel Suarez

Carson — Emily Landaverde, Haylee Feehan, Caylee Miracco

North — Jalexa Ortiz

Coach of the Year — Matt Parrish, Salisbury

Player of the Year — Ava Schleyer, South

Goalkeeper of the Year — Daisy Berry, East