Cedar Ridge Women’s Soccer

Kate to Katie: Paulakonis’ two goals leads Cedar Ridge women’s soccer past Richlands 3-1 for 1st home playoff win since 2005

There have already been plenty of remarkable achievements for the Cedar Ridge women’s soccer team this year.

They now have 14 wins, more than the 2018 squad that had freshman Ivy Garner, who now plays at Liberty University.

On Monday night, the Red Wolves won its first home playoff game since 2005.

Junior Katie Paulakonis scored two goals in the opening eight minutes as the Red Wolves defeated Richlands 3-1 at Red Wolves Stadium. Freshman Kate Finnegan assisted on the opening two goals.

The Red Wolves, seeded #16, will face conference rival Western Alamance in the second round in Elon. The Warriors defeated another Central Conference team, Walter Williams 6-2 on Monday.

Cedar Ridge’s last home win in the state playoffs came back in 2005 when they were a 2A team. They defeated Durham School of the Arts 2-0 to move into the state quarterfinals, where they fell to Western Guilford. That Red Wolf team finished 16-1-1.

This Cedar Ridge team is now the most successful team since that squad from 19 years ago.

Much of the credit goes to first-year head coach Sam Semerzier, who now had the Red Wolves on a four-game home winning streak.

“Given the passion of this team, I thought this was possible at the beginning of the year,” Semerzier said after Cedar Ridge’s win over Williams last week, which ended the regular season. “They had the thirst to thrive. They had the urge to win from the first time I met them. Everything that was burning in their hearts in coming to life now.”

Cedar Ridge’s last playoff win came in 2018, when they defeated West Carteret 3-0 in Morehead City.

The Red Wolves scored on its first possession just 80 seconds into the game. As the Wildcats tried to mount an attack, centerback Adelynn Nasseri cut off a pass and cleared the ball upfield to Kate Finnegan. As Paulakonis went on a mad dash past the midfield line, Finnegan kneed the ball past a Wildcat midfielder and directed a gorgeous longball ahead. Paulakonis’ won a race against Richland centerback Ester Zapata and had only goalkeeper Abbigail Kaestner in front of her. Paulakonis’ dribbled around Kaestner and, with a tight angle, directed the ball towards the net with her left field. The ball rolled tenuously along the line before it crossed over just as it tapped the far post.

Cedar Ridge goalkeeper Ellamarie Perel stopped an immediate response from 20 yards away by sophomore Kamrey Watkins, who finished the season with 34 goals.

The Red Wolves would strike again only three minutes later when Paulakonis took a deep throw-in from midfield and banked it off Finnegan’s corner went directly into the nine-yard box, where Paulakonis curved through unmarked and sent a half-volley directly to the back of the net for what turned out to be the game-winning goal with 35:23 remaining in the first half.

Paulakonis nearly had a hat trick on a free kick knuckleball from 23 yards away with 21:30 remaining in the first half that nearly cleared Kaestner’s head below the crossbar, but it sailed over the net.

Watkins provided the Wildcats in the best chance in the opening 40 minutes when midfielder Torrie McAllister stripped the ball away in Richlands’ attacking end and fed Watkins, who cut across midfield and got past Natasha Buchler-Fosado, but Perel stopped a line drive from ten yards away. With 5:42 remaining, Watkins took a long counter pass, but Rachel Alverson raced her down and squared up. It led to a long shot by Cadence Brown that missed wide. Watkins fired a 21-yard heave in the waning minutes that led to Perel’s fourth save.

Watkins had the forest serious attempt in the second half when she took a long clearance pass following a Cedar Ridge free kick, but Alverson ran her down and conceded a corner. The subsequent cross was cleared by Nasseri.

Paulakonis was fouled just outside of the box with 29:45 remaining in regulation, but her shot from 19 yards skipped off the top of the crossbar, the Red Wolves ninth shot.

The Red Wolves earned its third goal with 19:34 remaining a throw-in by Finnegan. Paulakonis bounced the ball off her chest and it rebounded to Celine Galla, who shot off a bounce inside the box went off Kaetner’s hands, then the crossbar. On the rebound, Galla jumped and tapped the ball off her head into the net and was immediately mobbed after her first playoff goal.

Richlands earned a penalty kick after a foul on Cedar Ridge in the box. Facing off against Abigail Proffitt, Perel made a diving save to the left, leading to another celebration from her teammates. Immediately afterwards, Brown sent a corner kick that was headed in by Watkins for the only Wildcats goal.

Perel finished with nine saves.

Cedar Ridge women’s soccer seniors Rachel Alverson, Natascha Buchler-Fosado, Isabella Warren & Ella Streilein discuss Senior Night win

There was a rainbow that appeared midway through the Cedar Ridge women’s soccer team’s Senior Night game against Walter Williams. It turned out to be a perfect symbolization for the best Cedar Ridge women’s season in 18 years. The Red Wolves got four goals from junior Katie Paulakonis, including the game-winner that broke a 3-3 tie in the second half. Paulakonis would score again in the final minute to win 5-3 and complete the regular season 12-6-1 under first-year head coach Sam Semerzier. It’s the most wins for Cedar Ridge in a season since the 2005 team, which finished 15-0-1. Captain Rachel Alverson has been a versatile presence along the Red Wolf back line. Alverson’s volleyball teammate, Natasha Buchler-Fosado, played her first season of soccer at Cedar Ridge this year. Isabella Warren and Ella Streilein were also valuable performers for the Red Wolves this year. Now, Cedar Ridge is preparing for the state playoffs for the first time since 2019. It isn’t out of the question that the Red Wolves could host a game in the state playoffs. After its win over Williams, Cedar Ridge has an RPI of #15. The Red Wolves will enjoy the rest of the week off and prepare for the release of the field of 64 brackets later this week.

Cedar Ridge women’s soccer Fleury Nicholson & Kate Finnegan discuss wild 5-5 tie vs. Orange

It was a senior night for the Orange women’s soccer team they will never forget. And Cedar Ridge won’t forget it either. The Red Wolves and the Lady Panthers played to a wild 5-5 tie at Orange Soccer Field on Wednesday night. It appeared that Red Wolf junior Katie Paulakonis would notch the game-winner when she knocked in a corner kick off a feed from freshman Kate Finnegan with 1:32 remaining in the first overtime. But Orange’s Caroline Cathey scored the game’s final goal when she launched a 22-yard shot off a corner kick where Lily Crayton took a short pass and returned it to Cathey. Cedar Ridge’s Fleury Nicholson scored two goals for the Red Wolves, including a beautiful switch to her right foot and fired a ball from 21 yards to give Cedar Ridge a 3-1 lead with 38:29 remaining in regulation. Nicholson also scored off a penalty kick when Paulakonis was fouled with 6:09 remaining in the first half. Kate Finnegan also scored for Cedar Ridge. The Red Wolves will venture to Eastern Alamance on Monday. Last week, the Red Wolves scored a 3-2 win over the Eagles, the defending 3A State Champions. Cathey tied the game for Orange with 1:10 remaining in regulation and finished with two goals. 

Women’s Soccer wrap-up: Paulakonis scores four goals as Cedar Ridge wins conference opener; Cathey earns hat trick in Orange’s victory over DSA

Cedar Ridge 9, Person 0: The Cedar Ridge women’s soccer team may very well be off to the very well the best start in school history. Junior Katie Paulakonis had one of the greatest weeks in team history last week.

Paulakonis had consecutive four-goal games. On Wednesday night, Paulakonis scored four goals in the Red Wolves Central Conference opener over Person at Red Wolves Stadium. The Red Wolves improved to 5-0, it’s first five-game winning streak to start a season since 2009, which is as far back as online records go.

Junior Fleury Nicholson, in her third year starting on the varsity level, earned her first hat trick of the season. Freshman Kate Finnegan also had a goal for the Red Wolves.

Paulakonis, a junior, is in her first season at Cedar Ridge. She was homeschooled for the past ten years at played with Dash FC out of Clayton.

Goalkeeper Ellamarie Perel earned the clean sheet as Cedar Ridge remained undefeated under new head coach Sam Semerzier.

It was Cedar Ridge’s second mercy rule win of the season. They also defeated Northern Durham 9-0 on March 8.

On Monday night in a 4-2 win over Franklinton, Paulakonis scored four goals. She added her fourth goal in the 87th minute after the Red Rams had narrowed its gap to 3-2.

Cedar Ridge will host Eno River Academy in Hillsborough on Monday night. They will host Enloe on Wednesday night, its final game before spring break.

Orange 6, Durham School of the Arts 0: Junior Caroline Cathey earned her first hat trick of the season as the Lady Panthers rolled past the Bulldogs in Hillsborough on Thursday night. Cathey now has four goals on the season.

Elliana Sullivan Gaddy notched two goals for Orange, who improved to 3-1. Ella Wimsatt, added her seventh goal of the season. Wimsatt, who is currently the leading scorer on the team, also assisted on two goals.

Cathey, Kaylen Crayton, Molly Kruse and Lucy Mignosa all had assisted for Orange. Makayla Davis earned the clean sheet as goalkeeper, her second clean sheet of the season.

Orange 5, Eno River Academy 0: In the first-ever women’s soccer game between the two Hillsborough schools, Wimsatt came away with the hat trick as the Lady Panthers earned the win at home.

Sullivan Gaddy and Kyla Mehl also had goals for Orange. Davis played the first half as goalkeeper and was credited with the win. Lexie Stephens played the second half and kept the Bobcats off the scoreboard.

Sullivan Gaddy, Evelyn Gover, Cora Bailey, Kaylen Crayton and Cathey all had assists. Senior wingback Lily Crayton and Channing Mahaney all had solid defensive games for Orange.

The Lady Panthers will travel to Elon to face Western Alamance tonight (Monday).

Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week: Katie Paulakonis

This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week is women’s soccer striker Katie Paulakonis. The Cedar Ridge women’s soccer team is off to its best start since 2009, at least. On Monday night, the Red Wolves improved to 4-0 with a 4-2 win over Franklinton at Red Wolves Stadium. Paulakonis scored all four of the goals for the Red Wolves. In Cedar Ridge’s past two games, she has scored six goals. This is Katie’s first season at Cedar Ridge. She spent the past ten years playing with Dash United out of Clayton while she was home schooled. Her arrival at Cedar Ridge corresponded with the arrival of new women’s soccer coach Sam Samerzier. On Wednesday night, Paulakonis had another four goal game as Cedar Ridge defeated Person 9-0 to win its Central Conference opener at Red Wolves Stadium. Paulakonis has scored ten goals in the past three games. She added two more goals in Cedar Ridge’s 9-0 win over Northern Durham lsat week in the Red Wolves first-ever game at the new Northern Durham High School Stadium. On Monday night, the Red Wolves will face Eno River Academy at Red Wolves Stadium, its final game before spring break. Paired with junior striker Fleury Nicholson, Paulakonis can help Cedar Ridge reach the state playoffs for the first time since 2019. 

Odds and Sods: Paulakonis scores 4 goals in Cedar Ridge’s women’s soccer’s win over Franklinton; Wimsatt scores hat trick in Orange’s victory over Eno River; Cedar Ridge tennis beats Orange

W0men’s soccer: Cedar Ridge 4, Franklinton 2: The Cedar Ridge women’s soccer team is off to its best start in at least 15 years.

Through there were some nervous moments late, the Red Wolves managed to defeat Franklinton 4-2 at Red Wolves Stadium on Monday night. Junior Katie Paulakonis, playing her first season for the Red Wolves, scored four goals as Cedar Ridge held off a late charge from Franklinton to improve to 4-0.

Cedar Ridge hasn’t started the season 4-0 since 2010, which is how far records date back online. Under new head coach Sam Semerzier, the Red Wolves have started the season outscoring its opposition 17-6.

Paulokonis scored two goals in the first half, then added a third in the second half. Franklinton had a chance to chip into the lead after the Red Wolves were called for a handball in the penalty area. Cedar Ridge goalkeeper Ellamarie Perel made a diving save on the penalty kick, leading to being mobbed by her teammates. Perel is in her first year as a starter after Addie Reid stood between the posts the past three years.

Franklinton narrowed the lead to 3-2, but Paulakonis added insurance in the 77th minute to sew up the win for the Red Wolves. Freshman Kate Finnegan nearly added another goal late.

Cedar Ridge will play its Central Conference opener against Person in Hillsborough on Wednesday.

Orange 5, Eno River Academy 0: In the first-ever women’s soccer matchup between the Lady Panthers and the Bobcats, senior Ella Wimsatt notched her second consecutive hat trick as Orange improved to 2-1.

Wimsatt, who finished with six goals last season, already has six goals this season. She scored six goals in all of 2023. Wimsatt notched her first career hat trick in a win over Person in Roxboro last week.

In front of a large crowd at Orange Soccer Field, Ellianna Sullivan Gaddy and Kyla Mehl added goals for Orange.

Makayla Davis earned the win as Orange goalkeeper. Lexie Stephens played in net for the second half to complete Orange’s second clean sheet of the season.

Sullivan Gaddy, Evelyn Gover, Cora Bailey, Caroline Cathey and Kaylen Crayton all assisted on goals for Orange.

On the back line, senior Lily Crayton and Channing Manning helped Orange earned the victory. The Lady Panthers will host Durham School of the Arts on Thursday night in Hillsborough. Orange has reached the 3A State Playoffs each of the last two years. They are 1-0 in the Central Conference and will continue conference play against Western Alamance in Elon next Monday.

Men’s Tennis: Cedar Ridge 7, Orange 2: The Cedar Ridge men’s tennis team, under new head coach Mike Rogers, earned two wins each from Fionn Kuo and Lev Bearman to defeat crosstown rival Orange to remain undefeated in the Central Conference.

Kuo, in his first season as the Red Wolves top starter, defeated Porter Pelphrey 6-1, 6-0, the first of five singles wins for Cedar Ridge. Later, Kuo would team with Leo Filley to defeat Pelphrey and Cameron Foster in the #1 doubles match 8-2.

Filey defeated Orange’s Quincy Stanley 7-5, 6-2 at #3 singles.

Bearman won at #2 singles over Orange’s Cameron Foster 6-3, 7-0. Bearman won at #2 doubles, teaming with Griffin Thomas to defeat Stanley and Jackson Coleman 8-2.

Joe Garbee defeated Orange’s Ryan Jouannet 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 at #4 singles.

In the only singles match to go three sets, Orange’s Jackson Coleman defeated Landon Rogers 3-6, 6-1, 10-4 (10 point tiebreaker). Thomas, at #6 singles for the Red Wolves, defeated Zachary Cole 6-2, 6-4.

Orange claimed its only doubles win when Jouannet and Race McAuley defeated Landon Rogers and Colin Fulcher 8-6.

Cedar Ridge (3-1) started the season with a 9-0 victory over Southern Alamance in Hillsborough. They rolled past Person 9-0 in its second conference match.

Orange (3-3, 2-2) earned two conference wins last week. They defeated Eastern Alamance in Hillsborough. On Friday, they edged Walter Williams 5-4 with Foster winning two matches to earn the victory. Western Alamance handed orange its only other conference loss on March 4.