Hunt, Fike red hot to start conference play | The Wilson Times
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Hunt, Fike red hot to start conference play

Posted on March 25, 2022

Updated on March 27, 2022

School SportsTop Sports
Fike’s Ridley Harrison (2) dribbles up the field during a 9-0 win over Smithfield Selma.

Andrew Schnittker | Times

Fike’s Ridley Harrison (2) dribbles up the field during a 9-0 win over Smithfield Selma.

Hunt’s Mariah Polk (17) works upfield during a 9-0 win over C.B. Aycock.

Sheldon Vick | Special to the Times

Hunt’s Mariah Polk (17) works upfield during a 9-0 win over C.B. Aycock.

Fike’s Karys Wheeler (1) looks for a passing option during a 9-0 win over Smithfield-Selma.

Andrew Schnittker | Times

Fike’s Karys Wheeler (1) looks for a passing option during a 9-0 win over Smithfield-Selma.

Hunt’s Kate Conoley (right) and C.B. Aycock’s Bailee Archambault battle for possession during a 9-0 Warriors win.

Sheldon Vick | Special to the Times

Hunt’s Kate Conoley (right) and C.B. Aycock’s Bailee Archambault battle for possession during a 9-0 Warriors win.

Fike’s Ridley Harrison (2) dribbles up the field during a 9-0 win over Smithfield Selma.

Andrew Schnittker | Times

Fike’s Ridley Harrison (2) dribbles up the field during a 9-0 win over Smithfield Selma.

Hunt’s Mariah Polk (17) works upfield during a 9-0 win over C.B. Aycock.

Sheldon Vick | Special to the Times

Hunt’s Mariah Polk (17) works upfield during a 9-0 win over C.B. Aycock.

Hunt’s Mariah Polk (17) works upfield during a 9-0 win over C.B. Aycock.
Fike’s Karys Wheeler (1) looks for a passing option during a 9-0 win over Smithfield-Selma.
Hunt’s Kate Conoley (right) and C.B. Aycock’s Bailee Archambault battle for possession during a 9-0 Warriors win.
Fike’s Ridley Harrison (2) dribbles up the field during a 9-0 win over Smithfield Selma.

aschnittker@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7807 | Twitter: @aschnitt53

Across the state, conference play for the 2021-22 high school girls soccer team is underway. For two local teams, it couldn’t have started any better.

The Hunt and Fike High girls soccer teams, two of the best 3-A teams in the east region for this season, are both off to 3-0 starts to Quad County Conference play. Given the way they’ve dominated their opponents so far, the Warriors and Golden Demons may be the teams to beat in the conference this year, and their head-to-head matchups (April 12 and 14) could well determine the conference champion.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the early portion of the season has gone for each team.

Demons explode into conference play

Following a 2-2-1 against some strong teams in the nonconference only portion of its schedule, Fike has roared into Quad County play, winning all three of its games, with a combined 29-1 margin of victory against West Johnston, South Johnston and Smithfield-Selma.

“We’re coming along,” said Fike head coach Chris Mizelle. “I think we had a good day of training on Monday and it showed on Tuesday night with the performance. I’m pretty pleased with the trajectory we’re on right now.”

Throughout the early part of the season, a very young Fike team that includes just one senior and has 10 freshman and sophomores has strived to learn about each other’s tendencies and how they can best work together.

“We’re just getting a little bit more familiarity with each other as a team, figuring out what our strengths and maybe what some of our weaknesses are to put everybody in the best spot possible to help us be successful,” Mizelle said. “But it’s still a growing process. We’re only seven games into it. It’s still early. I don’t think we’ve really hit midseason form yet, but hopefully that’s right around the corner.”

The Golden Demons have proven they’re capable of scoring, with 46 goals in eight games, a blistering 4.75 goals per game. And, on the flip side, they’ve only allowed six goals, just one in conference play. Erin Pope leads the Demons with 14 goals.

What’s also paid dividends for Fike is its ability to share the ball; the Demons have 27 assists on their 46 goals, with Pope leading the way again with 10 helpers.

“I think we can move the ball pretty well,” Mizelle said. “I think certainly we’ve got some fairly strong attacking presences out there. So I think on any given night, we should be able to find one or two and give ourselves a chance to win the game.”

Fike started off its season with some tough competition, opening against 4-A J.H. Rose and then taking on Dixon and Jacksonville in the Battle at the Beach in Newport, before splitting with First Flight and South Brunswick at The Brittany in Wilson.

Those tough early-season matchups helped the Demons get sharp for conference play, and hopefully, prepared them for the caliber of teams they’ll see in May.

“We’ve got to be able to deal with teams that are of that quality,” Mizelle said. “So it’s nice to have been able to see some of what we may see later on and just not be taken by surprise or be shocked that there are some other teams out there that are pretty good. We’re going to have to play our best to beat them.”

The concern going forward for the Demons is avoiding complacency in a conference where, other than its games against Hunt, the team isn’t likely to be challenged much before the postseason.

Maintaining focus will be the key.

“We’ve had quite a few conversations about just being consistent,” Mizelle said. “I don’t want to put anybody down, but not playing down to a certain level of competition. Trying to be consistent night in and night out regardless of the level of the opponent. You’re able to play the way you want to play, dictate the tempo as best you can and we’ve done a pretty good job of that so far. So I hope that we can stay that way and not drift into a lull to where we’re not seeing a super high level night in and night out. So that’s definitely at the forefront of our thinking and how we’re trying to prepare.”

Hunt rolling early in Quad County play

The Warriors have also won all of their first three conference games, taking down C.B. Aycock, Smithfield-Selma and Southern Wayne, all by 9-0 scores.

“I’m looking forward to the rest of the season,” said Hunt head coach Richard Frazier. “Thus far, our team has performed very well in our conference play. We’re looking to build on that each game.”

One of the bonuses of those lopsided scores is the team being able to build quality depth for later in the season by getting most of its roster playing experience in those games.

Hunt is also young, with 12 freshmen and sophomores. The Warriors have scored 25 goals in eight games and allowed just one, with Mariah Polk leading the Warriors with 10 goals.

“The strength of this team is that the team has a really good work ethic,” Frazier said. “We train really hard at practice. All the girls want to work to get better, so I definitely think that’s one of the strengths of this team.”

Like Fike, Hunt played a strong nonconference schedule, starting with a 1-0 win at D.H. Conley before beating Richlands and Croatan at the Battle at the Beach and falling to Marvin Ridge and Holly Springs at The Brittany.

Frazier has seen the benefits of his team learning lessons from those games already.

“We definitely wanted to load our non conference schedule with some quality opponents that would challenge us,” Frazier said. “Being in a new conference, we didn’t know a lot about a lot of these teams that we’re playing, so we did want to do some research on some teams that historically had done pretty well in the state, and I think we got those in the Brittany and also at the Battle of the Beach the prior weekend.”

Frazier shares Mizelle’s concerns about Hunt not being challenged in conference play (other than the showdowns with Fike, of course), but believes the Warriors’ compete level in practice will allow them to stay sharp.

“I think that the goals that we’ve set for this team, the girls are keeping them within reach,” Frazier said. “And we’re looking forward to the matches that we have this year, including Fike, and we do still have several non conference matches still on our schedule with Greenville Rose and South Central, so we’re looking to get better each game.”

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