Hendersonville's girls soccer team has met challenge after challenge this season, and now it's facing its biggest one yet.
Standing in the way of the Bearcats' quest for a 2-A state soccer title is Friday's fourth-round matchup with their toughest opponent yet: Lake Norman Charter, the No. 2 seed that is unbeaten at 20-0-1.
The two squads will face off at 4 p.m. at Lake Norman Charter.
The last time the Knights lost a match was on May 17, 2017, and it was at Dietz Field. The Bearcats put them away 3-1 in the third round of the 2-A state playoffs. Hendersonville went on to beat Forbush in the quarterfinals and then lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to West Stokes in the state semfinals.
The Bearcats (17-1-1) seem to be having a mirror-image of last year's season. They started off last year with a loss to traditional powerhouse T.C. Roberson and then didn't lose again until the state semifinals. This year's team also started off with a loss to the Rams and haven't lost since.
Leading the way for Hendersonville is a trio of goal scorers, led by junior Eden Hawkins with 16 goals. Sisters Martha (10 goals) and Miriam (eight goals) are next along with Lupita Melendez (eight goals). Senior Carson Kirby is the top passer with nine assists.
Anchoring the defense is defender Maya Gash, who steps in front of several would-be goal attempts from opponents. And if they are able to get by, goalkeeper Camryn Coggins is at the ready. She's made 111 saves this season and has nine shutouts.
Lake Norman Charter's go-to girl is sophomore Ayden Yates, and she's on a tear this season. She has 42 goals and 25 assists. She's already posted eight goals in three matches of the postseason, including four in the second round against North Davidson and two in Wednesday's 4-0 win over West Davidson.
The Knights goalkeeper is in her first year of varsity, but it doesn't look that way. She's made 32 saves and has 14 shutouts with a perfect record of 17-0.
Today's winner will advance to Tuesday's 2-A state semifinals against the winner between No. 1 seed Salisbury and No. 4 seed Forbush. Tuesday's semifinal winners will earn berths in the 2-A state title match, set for May 26 at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.