Ardrey Kell defense points way to state quarterfinal win

So how did Ardrey Kell’s girls soccer team squeeze by Hough and advance to the N.C. 4A state semifinals for the second season in a row?

Ardrey Kell coach Kim Montgomery said it was all about her team’s defense.

“We are very experienced and have great leadership in the back that can control the way the game needs to be going,” Montgomery said. “We are very blessed and really excited to be going to the Final Four.”

With goalie Caroline McSweeny dominating near her team’s goal, Ardrey Kell got out to a 2-0 lead before Hough scored in the second half. And Montgomery said Hough never gave up.

“It was just a tremendous effort by both teams,” Montgomery said. “Both programs just fight till the very end. It is just a gauntlet when you get to this point in the season, and you just have to go after it.”

The scoring got going just under 12 minutes into the game when Ardrey Kell’s Kayley Newman found herself with enough space to get a chip shot up over Hough goalie Sienna Zabek.

The Knights would have a few more chances on goal in the first half, but Zabek was able to prevent any more goals, keeping her team within striking distance.

She finished the first half with eight saves.

But the Knights kept pressuring the Hough goal and early in the second half, Ellie Riechman scored.

Now desperate, Hough answered quickly — barely four minutes after Riechman’s goal — when Huskies star Madison Waldron fought off a Knight defender and smacked a right footed shot to the back right corner of the net.

Hough continued to pressure the Ardrey Kell goal, but McSweeny was just excellent down the stretch. She ended the game with 10 saves, the majority coming in the second half.

“Caroline McSweeny was angelic tonight for us,” Montgomery said. “She had strong hands, a strong mind. She was solid and didn’t bobble anything. She kept us in this game and made her defenders confident. She has been an amazing piece to our team.”

Up next for Ardrey Kell is a state semifinal game at Weddington next week. Ardrey Kell, which has won 12 consecutive games, won 3-0 at Weddington to start the season on Feb. 28. Weddington (21-4) has won 12 games in a row.

Montgomery knows that even though only about five miles separate the two schools, it will be a true road environment with a rowdy crowd.

“We won’t be on our home field,” Montgomery said. “We had amazing support (Thursday) from our kids. We know a lot of those kids (at Weddington). A lot of our girls grow up playing club soccer together. We are going to do what we’ve done all year and just get our minds right, get our bodies right, and just continue to make sure we are ready for that game — mind, body, spirit.”


Kayley Newman, Ardrey Kell: Newman got the Knights the advantage early in the first half. She scored the lone goal of the first half and also had several good runs in the second half.

Caroline McSweeny, Ardrey Kell: The Knights’ keeper was described as “angelic” by her coach. After the Huskies scored in the second half, she turned it up even more and didn’t allow another goal from the Huskies.

Madison Waldron, Hough: Waldron scored the lone goal of the game for the Huskies. She also helped spur on her team’s comeback effort late in the second half with solid passes and runs at the goal.


The final score of 2-1 was the same final score from last season’s regional semifinal matchup between these two teams, which the Knights also won.


Ardrey Kell advances to the state semifinals next Tuesday against the No. 1 seed in the West region, the Weddington Warriors. The Hough Huskies’ season will come to an end, finishing with a 21-4-1 record.


Hough: 0 1 — 1

Ardrey Kell: 1 1 — 2

AK — Kayley Newman (unassisted)

AK — Ellie Riechman (Grace Myers assist)

H — Madison Waldron (unassisted)

PHOTOS: Hough girls soccer at Ardrey Kell

Langston Wertz Jr. is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked at the Observer since 1988. He’s covered everything from Final Fours and NFL to video games and Britney Spears. Wertz — a West Charlotte High and UNC grad — is the rare person who can answer “Charlotte,” when you ask, “What city are you from.”
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