10. A Decade of Success
As we wrap up our 10 for 10 series of athletic excellence in the past decade (2011-2020), story No. 10 highlights top team, individual, and academic performances along with unique programs to the CFA athletic department. We are proud to highlight these eight groups/teams.
Varsity Girls Golf – The Varsity Girls Golf team in its second year of existence (Fall 2018) finished as state runner-up behind a birdie putt on the 18th hole by 4 time all-state player Caroline Crumrine. Crumrine, who also has been named a two time Wilmington player of the year, will be headed to Furman University this fall.
Varsity Girls Lacrosse – The Varsity Girls Lacrosse Team in 2011 made a run into the NCISAA All-Classification Semifinals after knocking off Charlotte Latin 7-6 in the quarterfinals led by All-State goalie Catherine Tedder and All-State Midfielder Holden Corcoran.
Varsity Field Hockey – A unique sport for southeastern North Carolina with CFA being the only team in Wilmington has seen success statewide with 11 straight NCISAA All-Classification playoff appearances, and upset wins by the 2011 team (over Greensboro Day) and 2019 team (over St. Mary’s). CFA has also produced two NCAA Division I products this decade with Rebecca McLean (App State) and Lilly Lancaster (Wake Forest). Here are two articles from the local press on the sport of field hockey at CFA
Varsity Surfing – Another unique sport at CFA is Surfing. Honoring our local environment, CFA currently has the only Varsity Surf team in Wilmington with a 20-member strong team in the fall of 2019 while competing in local Eastern Surfing Association contests. CFA has had a tradition of top surfers competing at NSSA Mid-Atlantic competitions with Brandon Mitchell finishing first in Open Juniors in 2011 and Sean Brennan winning the Open Shortboard in 2014.
Varsity Volleyball – In the fall of 2018 season, the Varsity Volleyball team had the most wins in the program since 2000 and made their first appearance in the state playoffs in over 9 years. The 2018 team also earned the AVCA Team Academic Award for the third consecutive year and achieved the top 25 Honor Roll recognition for the second year in a row. Only 444 girls high school teams across the country received this AVCA award for the 2018-19 academic year. This team had 5 all-conference players which included the Conference Player of the Year.
Varsity Track – On May 20, 2017, while the Varsity Boys Lacrosse team was making history, so was Matt Kiatipis in Buies Creek, NC on the track at Campbell University. Kiatipis made CFA history by winning the school’s first track individual state championships while dominating the competition in sprint events. Matt set school records while being named NCISAA state champion in the 100m, 200m, and 400m. This is a feat that may never be duplicated. It was an awesome day in Buies Creek in May 2017.
Varsity Girls and Boys Cross Country – The Varsity Cross Country teams achieved great success in the past decade under the direction of Head Coach Colin Hackman. The girls team won six conference titles with one runner-up and an impressive four-year title stretch from 2015-2018. Thirty-four girls achieved all-conference status with the 2011 team finishing 3rd in the NCISAA State Meet and the 2016 team finishing 4th in the NCISAA State Meet. The boys team won four conference titles along with four runner-up finishes. The years of 2011-2014 saw CFA produce three conference titles, a conference runner of the year, and a 10th place NCISAA State finish in 2011. The boys program in the past decade saw 23 runners achieve all-conference status.
Varsity Boys Golf – CFA Varsity Boys Golf has dominated the links for the past decade with some great performances and results while winning four conference titles with two runner-up finishes. CFA placed 3rd in the NCISAA state tournament in 2013 and had five top eight state tournament finishes. CFA had 26 all-conference golfers highlighted by Ross Robison (played at UNCW) who was named Wilmington Player of the Year, Conference Player of the year, and NCISAA All-State. The 2019 team led the resurgence of CFA golf with a 5th place NCISAA state tournament finish and two players making the all-state team (Vance Young and Pierce Underwood).
9. Varsity Boys Soccer
The 2018 NCISAA 3A Boys State Championship Game on Saturday, October 27, was one of the most electric scenes in the history of Cape Fear Academy. The playoff run up to the championship game was remarkable as the No. 3 seed Hurricanes won their first quarterfinal game in 30 years in a 3-0 victory over six seed Calvary Day School. In their first semifinal in 30 years, CFA dominated an upset minded No. 7 seed Forsyth Country Day School 7-0. As No. 4 seed Gaston Christian School upset No. 1 seed Coastal Christian HS, CFA was then poised to host the state championship as the highest seed in the tournament.
Gaston Christian School had defeated CFA in the first game of the season, but CFA was a different team. In the championship game the Hurricanes scored first with a goal by sophomore Campbell McFarlane. CFA went up 2-0 in the 7th minute of the second half with a second goal from Campbell McFarlane off an assist from Vance Young. Gaston Christian hit the back of the net a minute later to cut the score to 2-1. The Eagles struck again in the 54th minute to tie the game at 2-2. With 13 minutes left, CFA put together six straight passes from the back and junior NCISAA All-State player Connor Smith (Davidson College commit) put home a left-footed shot off a cross from Tommy Morton. The Hurricane defense, led by senior NCISAA All-State Holt Robison (Colgate University defender), held tight for the last 13 minutes as junior goalie Miles Lindstrom was fantastic with eight saves on the day.
As the final whistle blew, students rushed the field as CFA won the school’s first boys soccer state championship under the direction of Head Coach Meade McFarlane. As stated by Tim Hower in his CoastalPreps article, “It was a magical finish to a magical season for CFA, which graduates five seniors (Preston Meehl, Ethan Miles, Walker Moore, Holt Robison and Arben Salihu). All five were instrumental in leading the program to its first ever state title.”
The Hurricanes ended the year with a 16-3 overall record. The season is documented by a highlight film (see below) produced and narrated by Bill Kanzinger. Sit back, relax, grab some popcorn for the 22 minutes of CFA fall 2018 soccer action and a state championship.
Holt Robison – Wilmington Area Player of the Year – Fall 2018
Local Media Stories from 2018 Championship Game:
In the 2011-2019 decade, The CFA Varsity Boys Soccer program also had two teams produce some exciting moments as the Fall 2011 team finished ranked No. 3 in the state with a 15-3-2 record and the Fall 2013 team finished 15-5-1 with a No. 5 ranking in the state.
8. Varsity Girls Tennis
The Varsity Girls Tennis program has produced some great players and team results over the past decade. One of the most spectacular performances in the decade was by Class of 2019 alum Ana Sharbaugh. Ana had a spectacular run in her four years. She was undefeated in her high school career, was a four-time NCISAA All-State player, and named Wilmington Area Player of the Year four times. Ana also produced in the classroom and was named the Class of 2019 Valedictorian. Here are the stories behind her four year career.
During the 2011-2020 decade, CFA Varsity Girls Tennis finished as state runner-up four times, won eight conference titles, and seven conference player of the year winners (multiple year award winners). The Fall 2013 team finished 16-1 as NCISAA State Runner-up, undefeated in regular season and against New Hanover County schools. The team featured NCISAA All-State performer Brooke Graham who went on to play at Wofford College and was a state individual champion in 2011.
The Fall 2015 and Fall 2016 Varsity Girls seasons finished as NCISAA State Runner-up teams along with going undefeated against all New Hanover County schools. These teams were the best in Wilmington for two years while winning CFA’s 11th and 12th consecutive conference titles. CFA was led during the decade by several strong coaches like Beverly Blalock, Kristen Mears Donovan, Cassie Causey, Lauren Isenhour, Miller Hales, and Alex Gianoplus.
7. Varsity Boys Lacrosse
The storied Cape Fear Academy Varsity Boys Lacrosse program added to its remarkable 25-year history with a state championship victory on May 20, 2017 in Winston-Salem under the direction of Coach Paul Gilbert. Here is the recap from the Star News on that spectacular day as the #2 seed Hurricanes upset the top-ranked Furies from Forsyth Country Day School.
“The Hurricanes captured their first state championship and tied the school record for most wins in a season with 15. Goalkeeper William Lewis made a couple huge saves down the stretch to help CFA avenge last season’s loss in the title game by the same score. He finished with 22 stops. The Hurricanes jumped out to a 7-2 lead and took an 8-7 lead into halftime. With the game tied at 12 with 2:36 to play, CFA’s Will Boggio won a key face off, setting up Henry Murtagh’s game winner. Murtagh finished with four goals and an assist. Wallace Fee scored a team-high five goals. Lewis, Cole Boggio (1 goal, 3 assists) and Preston Meehl (2 assists) were named All-State.”
Articles from May 20 and 21:
The decade of 2011-2020 saw some of the best lacrosse played at Cape Fear Academy with nine conference championships, nine state tournament invitations, four state championship games, 11 All-State Players, and one state championship. Class of 2013 member Pat Regan was named US Lacrosse All-American and headed to St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Regan had his No. 3 jersey retired and was also inducted into CFA’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2020. Bennett Dahl (Class of 2018) received the US Lacrosse Sportsmanship Award. Reed Sweyer (Class of 2019) was named US Lacrosse Academic All-American in 2019. In a remarkable four-year run, the Class of 2019 won 57 games, won a state championship, and played in four state championship games.
6. Varsity Boys Tennis
The CFA Varsity Boys Tennis program is the top program in all of southeastern North Carolina. In the past decade, the Hurricane “Netters” produced four state championships in 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015, a state runner-up finish in 2019, 13 All-State players (with seven repeat all-state members), eight conference players of the year, and seven conference team titles. The program has been in good hands during this run with the four head coaches of John Meehl, Albert Elrod, Alan Donald, and Jon Ingham.
Some of the highlights of the decade:
The impressive six-year run of the Class of 2013, which won five NCISAA state titles in six years. The four members of the Class of 2013 that played six years were Rob High, Alex Gianoplus, AJ Aziz (Boston College Tennis), and Parker Anderson.
Individual State Champions (Flight): Rob High, Alex Gianoplus, Michael Maynard, AJ Aziz, Parker Anderson, Jack Gallop, Jack Sandlin and Tyler Smith.
Wilmington Area Players of the Year: Rob High, Tristan Smith (2 times), and Alan Dimock.
5. Varsity Girls Soccer
In the spring of 2014, the Cape Fear Academy Varsity Girls Soccer team won the NCISAA 2A State Championship 2-1 in overtime over Asheville Christian Academy. The state championships were held in Winston-Salem over the weekend of May 16-17 and filmed/broadcasted by Time Warner. Senior Leah Falor scored the first goal in the 29th minute of regulation. Senior Addie Lalier scored the winning goal to break the 1-1 tie in the 7th minute of overtime off an assist from Libby Moore. Goalie Delaney Mitchell had 7 saves in the game. It was CFA’s second girls soccer state championship (CFA won in 1992). The Hurricanes ended the year with a 16-2-2 record. CFA was led by their four seniors Addie Lalier, Leah Falor, Anna Hyman, and Kat Kirchoff.
The 2014 team led by Coach Meade McFarlane featured five girls who would become NCISAA All-State in their CFA playing careers (Katy Kohut, Addie Lalier, Leah Falor, Delaney Mitchell, and Libby Moore) and an assistant coach Caroline Barnes who was a 2012 NCISAA All-State player. Two players would go on to play NCAA Division I soccer and hold school records – Delaney Mitchell (Towson University – CFA records of most saves/most wins in goal) and Libby Moore (UNC-Chapel Hill – CFA Soccer Boys and Girls Program All-Time Leading Scorer).
That is the action of the game, but the excitement of the moment can be felt by the blog of Assistant Coach Charles Mitchell, which he kept during the run up to the Championship game and on Championship Day. Here is part of the blog from May 15-17. In the state semifinal, CFA defeated conference rival Fayetteville Academy 2-0 with both goals coming from Leah Falor.
Article from State Championship Game
Did you know we had a National Champion in Wilmington? In 2017, Senior Chase Carraway won the National Cressy High School Singlehanded Championship held on October 28-29, in St. Petersburg, Florida.
A recap from that day:
The top 36 single-handed high school sailors from around the USA competed and there were only 2 races on the first day due to very light winds but with a cold front pushing through Saturday night, the winds were cranking from the Northwest at 18-31 knots on the second day which allowed race committee to have 11 races on Sunday. It was “survival of the fittest” on day two and CFA Senior Chase Carraway won the Laser Radial fleet by one point! Chase got off to a rough start but managed to claw himself back to a tie for first place after the next to last race, and then won the last race of the day to bring home a National Championship for Cape Fear Academy! There were a total of 13 races sailed and Chase recorded four bullets (1st place finishes) and 12 of his 13 races were top 10 finishes.
Chase was named a Gary Jobson All Star in Sailing World Magazine and was also invited to sail for US Sailing at the Youth Sailing World Championships in Texas in 2018. Chase is currently a member of the nationally ranked Hobart/William Smith College sailing team in New York. Chase’s brother Trey was the CFA’s first collegiate sailor when he signed with Jacksonville University in 2015.
Nov 3, 2017 Article in the Star News: https://www.starnewsonline.com/sports/20171103/cfa-senior-wins-national-sailing-title
CFA continues to be the only NCISAA school to have a Sailing team that practices out of the junior program at the Carolina Yacht Club. CFA is led under the direction of Coach Bill Smith. The 2019 team won a SAISA regatta in Charleston, SC, and qualified for the SAISA District Championship for the first time in school history.
3. Varsity Cheerleading
Did you say a Cheerleading State Title? On Saturday, February 9, 2013 the Varsity Cheerleading team entered the NCISAA State Cheerleading Invitational Competition at North Raleigh Christian Academy. CFA competed in the Large Varsity Non-Tumble Division and took first place over Charlotte Country Day School with 27 schools competing in the championships. Cape Fear Academy was under the direction of first-year coach Anna Copenhaver after many seasons of success under Head Coach Leigh Ann Hodges, who guided the Hurricanes to a CFIC conference championship and a trip to Disney to participate in the Christmas parade. The 16 girls who took the mat in Raleigh were led by six seniors. Captains Susanna Jenkins and Lindsay Rayner helped coach Copenhaver in leading spectacular Homecoming performances and creating the routine with challenging stunts.
From the Hurricane Newspaper and Yearbook at the time, Captain Susanna Jenkins said, “We have worked really hard, and we are ready with our routine for Homecoming and competition.”
“Winning was the most amazing feeling. I felt like it was a great way to end our season,” said cheer team member Christina Williams.
The team never thought the state championship was in the cards for them. After four people were injured a few weeks before competition, they thought everything was going downhill from there.
“After we lost two bases, I thought we’d have to take out one of our stunts, which would really hurt our routine,” said Savanah Knowles.
To make up for lost squad members, the team brought up Lola Lazarus, a freshman from JV, one week before competition.
“It was stressful trying to learn everything, but it ended up being really fun!” said Lazarus.
CFA’s strong commitment to cheerleading is still seen today with a Varsity Cheerleading squad of 18, a JV squad of 12, and a Middle School squad of 8. The cheerleaders provide fantastic routines for basketball games, holidays, homecoming, and senior night.
2. Varsity Swimming
The CFA Swim Canes have shown some fantastic performances in the pool over the last decade. The decade started off on a high note at the 2011 NCISAA Swim Championships held at the Rock Hill YMCA Aquatics Center on February 21. The 200-yard freestyle relay team of Hagen Dietrich, JJ Looney, Clay Ballard, and Daniel Birmingham out-touched the relay team from American Hebrew Academy by a narrow margin and won CFA’s first swimming state title of any kind — an amazing accomplishment. The 2011 Varsity Swim team was coached by Jeff McAllister.
Eight years later on February 12, 2019, in Greensboro at the NCISAA State Championships, the CFA girls relay team pulled off the same feat as the 2011 boys relay team. It was a spectacular day at the Greensboro Aquatic Center when the 200-yard freestyle team of Avery Bishop, Mary Ava McGrath, Emily Cox, and Liza Murtagh dominated the race to win the state title by 3 seconds. Then, on the same day Liza Murtagh won the 100-yard breaststroke to earn CFA’s first individual swimming state title and was named Wilmington Area Swimmer of the Year. The CFA Varsity Girls team finished 3rd in the state under the direction of Coach Megan Green, which was the school’s highest team finish. At the 2020 state championships in Greensboro, Liza Murtagh was back again as she defended her 100-yard breaststroke title along with winning the 50-yard freestyle title and being named Wilmington Area Swimmer of the Year for the second year in a row.
1. Varsity Basketball
What a 3-year run for the Varsity Basketball teams from 2017-2020. The Varsity Girls Basketball team advanced to the NCISAA Semifinals in two of those three years (2017-18, 2019-20) along with tying for the most wins in school history at 22 (2017-2018). Also, during those three years, the Varsity Girls team won three consecutive conference regular season and tournament championships led by Coach Ray Beatty. Along the way, Chloe Kernan scored her 2,000th career point and Kaia Simpson scored her 1,000th career point while they both achieved NCISAA All-State accolades.
The Varsity Boys Basketball team led by Coach Tony Martin advanced to two straight NCISAA Semifinal appearances (2018-19 and 2019-20) and set the most wins in school history at 26 (2018-2019) with their first trip to the NCISAA Semifinals since 2003. CFA was led by All-State players George Lefebvre and Emmanuel Bonsu (who also eclipsed the 1,000 point mark during the 2019-2020 season). In the 2017-2018 season, senior Grant Reed scored his 1,000 point.
During the 2019-2020 season, the Varsity Boys and Girls Basketball teams both won the conference regular season and tournament titles in the same year. This three year run by the Hurricanes basketball program provided some exciting times and amazing performances in the CFA Athletic Center.