Mountaineers riding momentum to playoffs

Mountaineers riding momentum to playoffs

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Mountaineers riding momentum to playoffs

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WAYNESVILLE

Tuscola girls soccer coach Erik Melville would love for lightning to strike three times.

Shelby Tricoli is on his team, so that increases the chances.

Tricoli was an All-WNC guard who led the Mountaineers girls basketball team to the 3-A Western Regional championship game in March, their deepest playoff run in school history.

Tricoli has signed to play that sport in college at Wingate.

Then on Saturday, Tricoli and fellow soccer teammates Caitlin Hines and Foster Kirkpatrick were part of Tuscola’s first-ever regional track championship team.

Finally, Tricoli was an All-WNC soccer player in 2012 and she and the Mountaineers are expected to start the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs at home on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. against Hickory.

“It’s a great time here,” Melville said.

“This group of girls here at Tuscola has really put in the time the past 3-4 years here to get where they are. And it’s great when you have kids like Shelby. We didn’t even get her (due to basketball) due to 5-6 weeks into our season and it took her even longer to break into our starting lineup. But she knew that the other girls had been at practice and deserved it.”

Tricoli has played both forward and midfielder for Western North Carolina Athletic Conference runner-up Tuscola (15-5-0) and contributed eight goals and nine assists.

Hines (28 goals, seven assists) is the team’s leading scorer, followed by Kirkpatrick (16 goals, six assists), Tricoli and Cassidy Pate-Moore (seven goals, 14 assists).

“It’s been an amazing year here,” Tricoli said.

“I don’t know that it has really sunken in yet. But I feel like we have a chance to make a good run (in soccer).”

The NCHSAA 3-A track meet is scheduled for Saturday in Greensboro, which would conflict with the second round of the soccer playoffs if the Mountaineers advance.

It is not a scenario that the Mountaineers are unprepared for.

Hines, Kirkpatrick and Tricoli have only attended track practices or meets when they do not interfere with soccer, Melville said.

Seven girls teams from WNC are in this week’s N.C. Soccer Coaches Association rankings – Roberson (No. 9) and Reynolds (No. 11) in 4-A, Enka (No. 10) and Franklin (No. 16) in 3-A, Owen (No. 10) in 2-A and Hendersonville (No. 5) in 1-A.

Franklin is the only unbeaten team in WNC, but did not enter the state rankings until this week.

As for the NCISAA, the No. 3 team in the 2-A classification is Asheville Christian Academy.

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