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Spartans making history

Central Davidson’s Haley Westervelt (left) and North Davidson’s Summer McMillan contend for a ball during a March 6 game in Welcome. (Photo by Mike Duprez/The Dispatch)

Central Davidson broke through in 2012 to win the Central Carolina Conference girls soccer championship and a pair of 2-A state playoff games before finally being vanquished by defending state champion Cuthbertson in the third round.

It was the first time the Spartans had ever gotten that far in the playoffs.

A year later, the Spartans are back and making more history. With a good mix of new and veteran players, Central has roared to a 10-1-1 start, the program’s best ever, which makes for a happy team.

“We’ve got a nice balance,” said Central coach Chad Hench, who has led the program since its inception. We’ve got a good sized senior class. A lot of them have been playing on varsity 3-4 years. So they’ve had a lot of time to mature and jell together. The younger players have come in and they’re playing good soccer. It’s a nice combination to have.

“Probably the nicest thing is the girls all get along. Everybody’s got each other’s backs. They work together. It’s been very easy to coach this group of kids.”

The Spartans certainly are piling up enough style points.

Central has outscored its opponents by a composite 59-8 with nine shutouts. The only blemishes on the record are a 3-3 tie with Bishop McGuinness on March 4 and a 3-2 loss to North Davidson at home on March 15.

There was thought that the Spartans could be in for a nice 2013 season since Hench started just one senior in the loss to Cuthbertson and had four All-County players returning in Haley Westervelt, Chandler Young, Kelsey Johnson and Paige Chavis.

So far, the Spartans are realizing that potential.

“We looked at it and we knew we had a lot of good people coming back,” Hench said. “Obviously, last year was a special season, a lot of milestones, accomplishments. This group coming back, they wanted to do more. We want to take it a little further.”

It’s the youngsters who are leading the way in terms of putting the ball in the back of the net. Westervelt, a cat-quick sophomore, has 18 goals and 15 assists while freshman Alex Myers has 17 goals and five assists. Carly Spainhour, a senior, has 10 goals and nine assists. Chavis has eight goals. The Spartans have speed and can attack.

But it may be defense that ultimately drives their success.

Young, a senior, has made 76 saves and has been in the net for all nine shutouts. Holding down the fort in front of her are junior Shelbi Joyner and seniors Johnson and Sierra Butterfield. Hench rotates a fourth player on the back line depending on the opponent.

“Those eight goals (allowed) are in three different games, which is weird in a way,” Hench said. “It seems that when we have a breakdown, we don’t fix it right away. But we’re working on it. We’ve had some games when the other team doesn’t even get any good shots. Chandler is making the saves she needs to and she has a solid group in front of her.”

Central sit atop the CCC standings again, thanks in part to a 4-2 win over traditional power Salisbury. West Davidson and Salisbury sit one game back. To get that point, Central front-loaded its schedule with a tough nonconference schedule that excluded weaker programs like Atkins and Parkland.

“You go through cycles,” Hench said. “It depends on what you have as a team. You try to build confidence in some seasons. Sometimes you need more competition. This helps us get ready for the conference.”

As for Central’s current high arc, Hench gives credit to junior varsity coach Charles Bradley.

“Coach Bradley does a good job of getting the girls ready,” Hench said. “When they come to the varsity, they’re ready to play.”

Central gets back to action Monday at home against Lexington.

Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or