Welcome to the new school year! Our varsity teams have been working hard since the beginning of August, with some squads having had multiple contests. Each week in Cavs Corner, I will provide a recap of the week in Durham Academy athletics. We will include contest recaps, interviews with student-athletes and coaches, and a look ahead to the next week. In this week’s Cavs Corner, we have part one of our fall sports season preview and recap a busy weekend of athletics.
The DA boys soccer team is looking to return to the state tournament for the fifth consecutive year. After an 8-7-1 season a year ago that ended with a heartbreaking penalty kick shoot-out loss in the first round of the state tournament, coach Julian Cochran’s team is poised for the opportunity to make a run for a state title. With just 35 percent of last year’s scorers returning, Cochran will need to find some new blood to fill the void left by a long list of graduated seniors. The return of senior captain Kenan Ulku-Steiner should help with that problem. Ulku-Steiner, who missed the majority of last year’s season due to injury, anchors a stellar midfield that also includes fellow captains Carter Owen, a senior, and Nick Epstein, a junior. Owen is the leading returning scorer with six goals and six assists, while Epstein had four goals and four assists last year.
Sophomore Ryan Kirschner will play an attacking position and should be the recipient of scoring opportunities created by the midfielders. Kirschner had all four of the Cavaliers’ goals in the team’s two pre-season scrimmages and scored twice in the Cavs’ season-opening 6-1 win over Woods Charter. Epstein added two goals and three assists in the win over the Wolves. Junior Roberto Escobar returns for his junior year in net and has allowed just three goals in the Cavs’ first three games. The team was faced with an early test on Friday against a Cannon School team that earned the No. 3 seed in last year’s state tournament. Owen scored for the Cavs in the 50th minute on a penalty kick that was drawn by freshman Walker Benjamin. While it looked like that lone goal would stand up, Cannon tied the game with just three minutes to go, and the game ended in a one-one draw. The Cavs remain unbeaten with Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Riverside High. Despite controlling play for the majority of the first half, DA trailed 1-0 at the break. It wasn’t until sophomores Will Nichols and Kirschner tallied four minutes apart late in the second half that the Cavs were able to rally to defeat the Pirates. Owen had assists on both goals as DA improved to 2-0-1.
North Raleigh Christian, the defending state champion, has returned with the majority of its team, while Ravenscroft and Cary Academy will be two other conference foes that will be challenging opponents for DA. Coach Cochran hopes that his team will “be better each day than what we were the day before.” He hopes that his team will be “positive and disciplined, and winning will follow as a result.”
This is my ninth year coaching girls tennis at Durham Academy — and it may be one of the most anticipated seasons that I have been a part of. We have reached the state semifinals and set school win records each of the last two years, and while we lost three important girls to graduation from last year’s team, our returning crew is extremely talented and focused on competing for a conference and state title.
Four sophomores return who had key roles on last year’s team. Alexis Galloway and Madeline Towning earned all-conference honors as ninth-graders playing the top two spots, while Renee George lost just twice in singles all year at No. 3. Taylor Hunter played in spot matches and should get a chance to be an everyday starter. The return of junior Joy Callwood, a 2015 NCISAA all-state honoree, means that last year’s top three will all move down a spot, making the team more dangerous than last season. The team’s captains — senior Nicole Riepl and junior Julia King — have started the season strong at third doubles, winning all four of their matches together.
After a season-opening sweep of Cary Christian, we traveled to Florence, South Carolina, last weekend to take part in the Florence Tennis Association Girls High School Tournament. The 16-team tournament featured many of the top teams in both North and South Carolina. We ended up reaching the championship match with wins over two South Carolina independent schools (Trinity-Byrnes and Porter Gaud) that each reached their respective state championship match in 2016. In the finals, we lost 4-2 to a St. David’s team that may be the best independent school team in North Carolina. I am very pleased with how we have started the season, as our team seems to be focused on getting better each day. The middle of our lineup this year should be dominant, which will help alleviate some pressure at the top. We have tough challenges coming up this year against Cary Academy (a team that beat us three times last year), Cardinal Gibbons and defending state champs Charlotte Country Day. We battle East Chapel Hill this afternoon, and that should give us more of a gauge as to where we stand among the state’s best.
Week in Review
Both the field hockey and volleyball teams played in tournaments this past weekend to open their seasons.
Field hockey went 3-1 and won the blue bracket in Cary Academy’s “Kids vs. Cancer” tournament. After starting with an 11-0 win over Jordan High, with nine different Cavaliers scoring, the team fell 4-1 to public school powerhouse Myers Park of Charlotte. On Saturday, the Cavs had matching 2-0 wins over Chapel Hill High and Cary Christian. Seniors Callie Pierce (team-leading three goals and one assist) and Serafina Turner (one goal and one assist) were named to the all-tournament team. Four more players (senior Cat McNish, junior Eleanor Robb, senior Virginia Capehart and senior Gwen Caudle) each scored two goals during the tournament. Junior Ellie McGhee opened her season with 29 saves in goal with two shutouts over the four games. The team came right back on Wednesday to battle Cary Christian for the second time in five days. After ninth-grader Jaden Simpson opened the scoring off a Capehart assist early in the game, the Knights scored the final four goals of the game to defeat the Cavs 4-1. Field hockey is now 3-2 on the season.
Volleyball kicked off the 2017 season last Thursday with a 3-1 win over the Carolina Mustangs. Junior Michiko Haynie led the team with 11 kills, while sophomore Millie Loehr had eight kills. Sophomore Adriana Kim had six aces and 30 assists, while senior captain Ellie Palmer added eight aces, six kills and 18 serves received. On Saturday, the team travelled to Huntersville to participate in the SouthLake Christian Academy “VolleyBASH.” In their first match, the Cavs lost identical 25-16 sets to Lake Norman Charter but then rebounded with a 25-18, 25-22 win over Hopewell High of Charlotte. In their final pool play game, DA lost 25-16, 25-18 to Charlotte Country Day. Through the first four matches, Haynie leads the team with 27 kills, Loehr has 20, and freshman Emily Kohn has 16. Palmer (13) and Kim (10) lead the team in aces while Kim has 69 assists. Kim was also named to the all-tournament team this past weekend. The volleyball team will be in Kirby Gym the next two afternoons to battle the Durham Flight home school team on Thursday and Science and Math on Friday.
The cross country and golf teams both open their seasons today as cross-country hosts Wake Christian and Henderson Collegiate School at 5 p.m., and golf travels to High Point to take on Wesleyan Christian. After this week, competition will take a break as all teams will be off until after Labor Day due to grade-level trips. In next week’s edition of Cavs Corner, we will recap the action from the end of this week and continue our varsity fall sports previews. As always, thank you for your continued support of DA Athletics!
Keeping up with the Cavs
As always, you can keep up with the Cavs on Durham Academy’s website and the DA App:
www.da.org/athletics: Schedules and Results
- For a list of all teams, their schedules and directions to games, visit www.da.org/teams.
- Click on an individual team to subscribe to automatic alerts about athletics results, postponements and cancellations, calendar and athletic event reminders. You can also import team schedules into your electronic calendars.
- For a recap of athletics results and scores, visit www.da.org/scoreboard.
- All information about the daily athletics schedule is also available on DA’s Athletics Hotline: 919-489-2534 (ext. 5).
The DA App: Schedules and Results
- The DA App allows you to keep up with athletics wherever you are. You can download the app from iTunes at http://bit.ly/DACavaliers. The DA App pulls athletics content directly from the DA website and delivers it to iOS-based devices including iPhone and iPad.
- The Athletics portion of the DA App (after launching, click Menu, then click Athletics to open) features results of recent games, a list of upcoming contests and team records.