Greencastle-Antrim girls soccer is 8-0 after defeating Big Spring
As a four-year member of the Greencastle-Antrim varsity girls soccer team, sweeper Sayge Wilhide has been through some rough seasons.
The Blue Devils finished 5-11-1 in Wilhide's freshman year and 6-12 the following season, before closing 2019 with an 8-8 record.
But look at them now.
Under first-year head coach Chris Noblit, Greencastle stands 8-0 after Tuesday's 11-0 dismantling of Big Spring in a Mid-Penn Colonial contest at Kaley Field.
Wilhide struck twice from long range — once in each half — with booming shots from her powerful right foot. They were her first two tallies of the season.
“This is perfect,” Wilhide said of what to this point has been a dream senior campaign. “I couldn't ask for a better team.”
The Blue Devils have outscored opponents 46-4 this season, winning each game by at least two goals. On Tuesday, junior striker Courtney Andruczk had three goals and two assists, and freshman Haley Noblit added three goals and one assist to lead the charge. Junior Avery Parks had three assists.
A change at the top
Chris Noblit is “having the time of my life” leading the Blue Devils.
“They were .500 last year, but when I took over, I went, 'Goodness gracious, there's a lot of talent here, we've got to capitalize,'” he said.
The players are equally ecstatic with their leader.
“Our team dynamic has been a lot different. There's a better coaching staff, better leadership and we're playing better as a team,” said Andruczk.
“There's a new coach, we're playing better and it's just overall a better experience,” said Wilhide. “Just from years past, we communicate better, pass the ball better and there's just more chemistry.”
Three of the Blue Devils' top five scorers this season are underclassmen — Noblit (nine goals, 10 assists) and sophomores Mia Libby (four goals, four assists) and Maddie Baine (four goals, two assists). The other two are Parks (12 goals, nine assists) and Andruczk (nine goals, six assists).
“When I came in, I was really nervous. I know a bunch of the girls, and their skill level, they're really good,” Haley Noblit said. “But we all played well together right away.”
The chemistry was obvious from the first whistle against Big Spring — especially between Noblit and Andruczk, who teamed up on four goals.
“It's the combinations we practice, and it carries into the games,” Andruczk said.
Parks and Andruczk got Greencastle rolling in the sixth minute when Parks threaded a diagonal pass up the middle that Andruczk chipped past the goalkeeper, who was a step late coming out.
In the 11th minute, Noblit took a pass from Andruczk, cleanly beat a defender with a right-footed dribble to the left, then sent a left-footed shot into the right side of the goal.
In the 29th minute, Noblit set up Andruczk with a similar centering pass, and Andruczk struck a beautiful left-footed volley off the bounce into the top of the net from 15 yards out.
Noblit scored off a goalkeeper error in the 34th minute to cap Greencastle's seven-goal first half.
In the 41st minute, Libby sent Andruczk free up the left side with a through pass. Andruczk could easily have taken the shot, but instead sent a pass across the goal mouth that Noblit tapped home.
In the 45th minute, Andruczk capped her night by taking yet another feed from Noblit, making a textbook turn toward her right foot and sending the shot inside the left post.
“The big emphasis has been on passing, receiving and spacing,” Chris Noblit said. “Space equals time, and that equals quality soccer.”
Get after it
Despite defeating rival James Buchanan 5-0 on Saturday, Chris Noblit wasn't entirely happy.
“I felt our transition was very slow and we had huge gaps between our offense and our defense,” he said. “So I challenged them. I told them — and it wasn't a punishment — but if you walk tonight, you're going to be on the bench getting a breather.”
On Tuesday, there were times it felt like there were 15 Blue Devils on the field as they challenged to win just about every pass Big Spring made. So dominant was Greencastle in gaining possession in the first half, that Big Spring made no more than a handful of trips out of its own side of the field — and did not get off a single shot.
“We want to raise our level every time we play,” Andruczk said. “We know in the postseason we will play teams much stronger.”
A memorable first
Senior Hannah Douglas' first varsity goal was one to remember — whether it was intentional or not.
In the 17th minute, Douglas found herself with the ball about three feet from the goal line on the right side. It's hard to say whether she was attempting a cross or a shot, but either way, it came across the goal mouth, hit the left post and went in.
Getting in the act
Baine and sophomore Rylee Henson also scored for Greencastle. Libby and junior Olivia Russell each had an assist.
Libby was a dominant force in the midfield for the Blue Devils, until she donned the yellow goalkeeper's jersey early in the second half. The change in position didn't change her possession instincts — at one point, from well out of the goal, she dribbled around a challenging Big Spring player before feeding a teammate.
Confidence is earned
Greencastle's biggest win of the season came on Oct. 5, and it was a doozy — a 2-0 victory on the road against a Camp Hill squad that went 25-0 and won the PIAA Class 1A state title in 2019.
“It really boosted our confidence level, to know we can go really far, maybe even to states,” said Haley Noblit. “It makes us work harder.”
“After winning those big games, we know we can do it,” said Wilhide. “We don't doubt ourselves, and that plays a huge part.”
Courtney Andruczk: 3 goals with 2 assists
Haley Noblit: 3 goals with 1 assist
Sayge Wilhide: 2 goals
Maddie Baine: 1 goal
Hannah Douglas : 1 goal (first career goal for the senior)
Rylee Henson: 1 goal
Avery Parks: 3 assists
Mia Libby: 1 assist
Olivia Russell: 1 assist.