Like many coaches at Cedar Ridge this season, P.J. Michaelson is trying to build a team after the defection of a star player.
Last August, Ivy Garner led the Red Wolves in scoring as a freshman. She scored 18 goals and 14 assists en route to being invited to play in the Women’s Premier Soccer League with Oak City United. She was the only prep player on Oak City.
Garner and freshman Emerson Talley made for a powerful striking duo that helped the Red Wolves finish 3rd in the Big 8 Conference and sweep crosstown rival Orange. After helping Cedar Ridge win its first playoff game in 13 years, Garner transferred to Eno River Academy last summer. Despite losing one of the elite players in the entire state, Michaelson isn’t looking back.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” Michaelson said. “We just play with who we have. We have the pieces that we have. We’re a good squad. We just need a few games of everybody playing together and we’ll start to be pretty solid.”
After going 11-4-5 in 2018, the Red Wolves are off to a 2-4-1 start this season after a 5-2 loss to Northwood in Pittsboro on Monday night. However, Talley has scored seven goals and two assists to lead the team. With Garner’s departure, Tally has had to take an increased role on the team.
“Emmy is still learning,” Michaelson said. “She is a phenomenal soccer player. She’s also trying to adapt to the role she’s playing this year. She’s lethal in getting scoring chances. As she gets more matches under her belt, she’s really going to start opening up.”
While Garner’s exit was unexpected, the loss of goalkeeper Taylin Jean wasn’t. Jean was the four-time Big 8 Goalkeeper of the Year who also started in the East/West All-Star game last year. Now, she’s a member of the Limestone College Saints.
However, Grace Davies is no stranger to playing in net. She played in eight games last season as Jean frequently played in the outfield during the 2nd halves of games that Cedar Ridge had a comfortable lead in.
“Grace has definitely stepped up for us,” Michaelson said. “She and Taylin definitely stepped up for us last year. Grace has stepped in that role full-time and done really well. She’s different than Taylin. She’s taller and she can get the balls that Taylin can’t. She’s doing really well adjusting to playing the entire game.”
After dropping its season opener to Western Alamance 5-0 and its Big 8 Conference opener to East Chapel Hill 5-0, Cedar Ridge fought back to defeat Halifax Academy 8-0 for its first win of the season on March 8. Following a scoreless tie against Durham School of the Arts, the Red Wolves won their first conference game by beating Hillside 9-0 at Red Wolves Stadium on March 12.
Talley scored two goals against the Hornets. Sophomore Nichol Anderson also scored two goals. Seniors Alana Lutz, Geri Messinger, and juniors Mackenzie Danku, Solis Morales, and Meredith Braddy also scored goals for Cedar Ridge. The Red Wolves will travel to Orange on Monday.