The varsity women’s soccer team held up their hands to spell out “100” and celebrated on the field after senior Samantha Holmes scored her 100th goal in the first half of the Pisgah game this spring. The celebration continued at halftime, and Holmes went on to score her 101st goal the same night.
Holmes, a forward and striker, currently leads the conference with 62 points and 30 goals. She has committed to play soccer at Western Carolina University.
“It’s been really exciting to see all of my hard work pay off, and I owe all my success to my coaches and teammates,” Holmes said. “It was definitely intimidating, and I felt like I had lots of decisions to make, but I’m lucky to have had all those options,” Holmes said.
Since scoring her 101st goal, Holmes broke the school record of 112 goals. She then broke the county record of 114, previously held by a East Henderson player.
Head Coach Craig Long started the women’s soccer program 20 years ago. The record that Holmes broke was set by Nicole Moreno, 1996-1999.
“Samantha tied the record with six games left in our season, so I knew she had a chance to break the county record, 114 goals,” Long said.
The women’s varsity team is led by six seniors, including Holmes and Brittney Naef, who has committed to play soccer at Brevard College. Naef plays at left wing and midfield and has been on varsity for two years. She follows Holmes, coming in fourth in both points and goals, earning 17 and 7 respectively.
“It feels good to be committed to play college soccer,” Naef said. “I feel like I can take my soccer skills to the next level and follow my dreams. I’ve always dreamed about playing college soccer, and now I actually get to do it.”
Holmes, a four-year varsity player, is a leader on and off the field. Through her high school career, she has been named the Times-News player of the year twice, Times-News player of the week four times and a Kiwanis All-Star three times and has earned both all-region and all-area honors three times.
“Samantha always makes sure to give us congratulations to us after we make good plays,” teammate LeighAnn DeVore, a junior, said. “She always gives us an encouraging word when we need it and makes us laugh when we are all kind of down about something that has happened. Samantha’s a good team leader and a great soccer player.”
Long came back to coach the team’s 20th season, after retiring from teaching at West last year.
“I really enjoy coaching women’s soccer and I felt like it was something I just couldn’t give up,” Long said. “I’m excited because I can tell that the girls all give effort and have athleticism. I’m excited about the team itself because there’s only three returning starters, and I’m excited for all the new talent.”
The varsity women’s soccer team is 7-13-1 overall, 5-8 in the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference.
“This season started off pretty rough,” junior Courtney Kanetzke said. “I honestly didn’t think we were going to win many games, but then we beat Brevard, 6-2. That game was a pick-me-up, and I think our team has started to learn how to play together. We have a lot more skills we need to work on, but overall I think we have a very talented team.”
Along with her five other senior teammates, Holmes is trying to make the most out of her senior season.
“She’s been on varsity since freshman year, so she knows how all the plays work,” Kanetzke said. “She’s really fast and good at handling the ball.”
Holmes and the other seniors lead the team on the field, but they respect the talent of their 18 younger teammates.
Sophomore Bradleigh Robinson is ranked third in the conference for assists, and junior Sheridan Patterson is ranked fifth.
“I love playing alongside Bradleigh and Sheridan,” Holmes said. “They are crucial players to our team and help us create opportunities to score.”
The team hopes to continue improving their conference standings and make it to the playoffs.
“This season has definitely had it’s ups and downs, but I’m glad we have had the seniors that we do. They are all really great leaders,” DeVore said. “I hope we can continue to improve and play our hardest.”
By Caroline Ward