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NJ’s Morales makes school history, all-state team


North Johnston junior Johanna Morales (8) prepares to take a shot during a game at Beddingfield on March 18. Morales scored a school-record 45 goals as she earned a spot on the NCSCA 2-A all-state team becoming the first girls player from North Johnston to do so.  Sheldon Vick | Special to the Times

North Johnston junior Johanna Morales (8) prepares to take a shot during a game at Beddingfield on March 18. Morales scored a school-record 45 goals as she earned a spot on the NCSCA 2-A all-state team becoming the first girls player from North Johnston to do so. Sheldon Vick | Special to the Times

Johanna Morales enjoyed one of the all-time breakout seasons in North Johnston High girls soccer history and now has the hardware to back it up.



The junior forward, who already had been named 2-A Neuse 6 Conference Offensive Player of the Year, became the first North Johnston girls soccer player to attain all-state from the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association. Morales was on the 26-player NCSCA 2-A all-state team that was announced Sunday. Four NJ boys players – Garrett Grady, Adolfo Rosales, Graham Walson and Ian Walston, twice – have been thusly honored but Morales was the first on the girls side.

“Oh, honestly, it doesn’t feel real,” she said in a telephone interview. “Like to this day I feel like it’s still not true. Maybe because it’s the first time that’s ever happened. So I felt good, but at the same time, like, I’m chilling because I really don’t believe it.”

Morales earned her spot by scoring 45 goals, which stands as a Panther record and was the third-most scored by a player in the NCHSAA 2-A East Region this spring. Scoring is only part of what Morales can do, said Panthers head coach Chase Davis.

“She’s obviously dedicated,” he said. “She learns even though she knows a lot about soccer, she still learns and she’s a very coachable athlete. One thing too, that I think kept her so good is that she’s a very humbled athlete. Overall, she knows she’s good, but she would go out there and she would do her job on the field. And she wouldn’t complain, she wouldn’t get mad at other players for not giving her passes and stuff like that, she would just go out there. And if they weren’t passing the ball to her, she would make something happen. She found the net anyway.”

Morales also doled out seven assists, No. 3 on the team, as the Panthers went 15-5 overall and 9-1 to win the Neuse 6. North Johnson exited in the second round of the NCHSAA 2-A playoffs.

What made Morales’ spring even more remarkable is that she didn’t play last year because North Johnston was unable to field a team due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited Morales’ freshman season in 2020 to just two games. She was able to play with her Greater Cleveland Athletic Association youth soccer club team but Morales said it was slow going early.

“It was at first,” she said. “It was kind of like I had to get back into being used to playing with actual teams and stuff but since I had just come off my club season it was a little bit easier to get used to. The whole goal thing. I really don’t know. I just love playing at forward. I guess that is where it comes from.”

Davis pointed to his star player’s dedication, evident in her time in the weight room and running on the school’s track.

“She’s just a very skillful player, but also very coachable,” he said. “She was still learning even though she knew a lot more than some of the other girls on the team. I think that’s kind of what set her apart .”