Cavs Corner: Three Teams Still in the Fight for Postseason Titles

Contributors: Bria Irizarry, Colleen Gunning and Ryan Killen
Twitter: @daathletics
Instagram: @dacavsathletics

Three fall Cavalier sports teams are still on the hunt for an N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association state title. This weekend, Durham Academy volleyball and soccer will compete in the 4A state quarterfinals at home, while DA cross-country will head to Charlotte for the title meet.

The Cavs volleyball team, which finished as runner-up in the state final last year, will make its third quarterfinal appearance in as many years on Friday night vs. Wake Christian Academy. Heading into the postseason, senior Elizabeth Kohn (who is out for the remainder of the season with an injury) leads the team in kills with 104; sophomore Hannah Kohn has the most serve points, aces and digs; and ninth-grader Kate Norry leads the team in blocks.

Friday has the potential to be a historic day for the 6–2 Cavalier boys soccer team if things go well. After going 18 years without a semifinal appearance, a win would put the Cavs back in the semifinals for the second year in a row. It would also rank the Cavs among the most successful varsity boys soccer teams in DA history. Senior Charlie Robb has 6 goals and 4 assists on the season, followed closely by classmate Walker Benjamin who has 5 goals and 5 assists.

The DA girls cross-country program will defend its 2019 state title in Charlotte on Saturday. Ninth-grader Allison Hall, who ran a 18:53 race at the conference meet last week, finished fourth in the state meet last year with a time of 18:57 and will look to anchor the team again this weekend. 

DA athletics is so grateful for your support during last week’s Chipotle fundraiser, and we hope you’ll continue to tune in to our virtual sidelines to cheer our teams to victory! 


Both the boys and girls cross-country teams earned second place in the Triangle Independent Schools Athletic Conference championship meet last week at WakeMed Soccer Park. 

The girls ran first, and out of the gates ninth-grader Allison Hall charged into first place. Senior Anna Catherine Wilson fought for second place, and senior Lucy Steiner battled in a pack of four other runners to claim the eighth spot through the first mile. Hall and Wilson held steady in their positions through mile two, and Steiner continued to pick off the opposing teams to move to sixth place. 

Hall eventually crossed the finish line in first place (for the second year in a row) with a time of 18:53. Wilson earned a second-place finish with a time of 19:34. A Cary Academy runner placed third and Steiner placed fourth with a time of 20:59. Cary Academy brought in the fifth-, sixth-, 11th- and 13th-place runners to help the team secure first place. DA seniors Abby Goldman, Sara Lipsitch and Maggie Chambliss crossed the finish line at 17th, 18th and 19th places, respectively. In the end, DA finished just 4 points shy of first place. Hall, Wilson and Steiner were named to the 2020 All-Conference Team.

The boys race began in similar fashion, with senior Jay Shanahan getting out to a quick second-place start. Classmate Kabir Khwaja was just behind him in fourth, and sophomore Aaron Caveney was in eighth at the first-mile mark. The Cavs also battled a strong Cary Academy team, which had runners in first, third, fifth and sixth. Shanahan held on to a second-place finish, coming in more than 30 seconds ahead of the third-place runner (from North Raleigh Christian Academy). After Cary Academy brought in the fourth-place runner, DA senior Ryan Norris placed fifth with a time of 16:56 and Khwaja placed sixth with a time of 17:01. Caveney placed 10th for the Cavs and junior George Linney took 11th place. The Cavs ultimately placed second, just 5 points behind Cary Academy, which had five runners in the top 10. 

Despite the second-place finish for both teams, the Cavs had seven runners named to the 2020 TISAC All-Conference teams — for the girls, Hall, Steiner and Wilson, and on the boys side, Shanahan, Norris, Khwaja and Caveney. DA boys and girls cross-country head to Charlotte Saturday for the 4A NCISAA state championship meet at McAlpine Park. The girls will race at noon and the boys will race at 3:20 p.m.

Girls Golf

The Cavs finished the season strong, earning a state runner-up finish in the NCISAA tournament at Greensboro’s Bryan Park on Monday. Sophomore Ona Lukes remained even through 16 holes to place fourth overall with a score of 74. Eighth-grader Saia Rampersaud also placed for the Cavs, tying for eighth with 77. Sophomore Kayley Kim came in with an 85 to tie for 16th and round out the Cavs’ scoring for a second-place finish. Additionally, senior Lydia Norman (90) tied for 20th, eighth-grader Chloe French (91) placed 22nd, and ninth-grader Evelyn Guyer (107) tied for 32nd out of a total 38 golfers.

Field Hockey

DA field hockey had an impressive postseason run this year, with an exciting quarterfinal win over Cary Christian School on Friday before falling to Providence Day in the state semifinals on Tuesday. In Friday’s matchup vs. Cary Christian, both sides were evenly matched and the game remained scoreless until the final four minutes. 

With the clock winding down in regulation, the Cavs lined up for another opportunity to score off a corner. Junior Talbot Waters played the ball in to junior Emmie Savarino, who found senior Katherine Lantzy to send a hard shot past the Knights’ goalkeeper for the 1–0 lead. Junior Mirella Kades was big in goal for the Cavs, stopping all nine shots on goal and keeping Cary Christian from a last-minute equalizer. 

DA advanced to the state semifinals in Charlotte on Tuesday, but fell 8–0 to a very strong Providence Day team. The Cavs closed out the season with a 5–3 record.

Boys Soccer

Boys soccer came away with a 2–0 win at Cary Academy on Thursday. Senior Walker Benjamin scored both of the goals, with one in each half. Benjamin’s first goal came from a free kick in the last seconds of the first half. He went on to score his second with 10 minutes remaining in the game off a feed from senior Connor McNamara. 

In Friday’s regular-season finale, DA defeated North Raleigh Christian Academy by a score of 4–2. Junior Diego Pastor-Valverde and senior Charlie Robb were the headline performers, with each scoring two goals in the win. The Cavs had won their Oct. 16 match vs. NRCA thanks to a late goal off a corner kick — and set pieces were again the defining element of the Cavs’ success in this victory. Robb and Pastor-Valverde both scored off corners to put the Cavs up 2–0 in the first half. Robb scored with a right-footed finish, while Pastor-Valverde scored with a header. 

After NRCA pulled one back, Benjamin looped in a free kick about 5 yards away from the corner flag. The Knights initially cleared it, but the clearance fell right in the path of Pastor-Valverde, who smashed it into the far post off the tip of the keeper’s gloves. NRCA once again refused to go down without a fight as they pulled it back within 1 goal again. The Cavs held firm, and as the Knights were pushing up the field with about five minutes remaining, DA sophomore Max Brown played a ball over the top of the Knights’ backline for Robb to run onto. Robb tapped it around the keeper and rolled it into the back of the net to secure the 4–2 win. The Cavs finished at 6–2 in TISAC play.

The Cavs square off against Wesleyan Christian Academy on Friday night in the state quarterfinals. Wesleyan has historically been the dominant private school soccer program in North Carolina and one of the more successful teams in the country. Despite Wesleyan having won four straight state titles and seven of the last nine, the Cavs feel this could potentially be the year they take them down. The winner will advance to the state semifinals.

Girls Tennis

On Friday, the DA girls tennis team took down conference rival Ravenscroft 5–1 in the quarterfinal round of the NCISAA 4A state tournament. The Cavs’ third win over the Ravens this year pushed them into the state semifinals for a remarkable sixth consecutive season. After a solid 8–2 win on court three by ninth-grader Kiersten Hackman and sophomore Aerin Borden, the Cavs top court duo of senior Ameya Bellamkonda and ninth-grader Godiya Mangai lost 8–3. The pivotal second doubles match saw junior Mukta Dharmapurikar and sophomore Allison Preble battle back from 3–4 down to take an 8–6 win. Junior Chloe Bayer was the first off the court in singles play with a 6–0, 6–1 win on court four. Dharmapurikar was next off, with an impressive 6–0, 6–3 win over an opponent who had beaten her twice during the regular season. Preble clinched the match 6–2, 6–2 on court five.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Cavs’ season came to a close when top seed and defending state champion Charlotte Latin handed the Cavs a 5–0 defeat in the state semifinals. This was the third straight year facing Latin in the state playoffs. Dharmapurikar was the only returning player from last year's state finalist team, while the Hawks returned their entire lineup and played like the defending state champs. The Cavaliers fell behind quickly in all three doubles matches, and despite some late-match energy from the third doubles team of Borden and Hackman, DA could only muster a total of seven doubles games between the three courts. In singles play, Mangai won her first set on court three, while Preble on five and junior Fiona Jenkins on six were very tight with their opponents when the Hawks clinched the match. The Cavs finished with a 9–2 record on the season with a state semifinals appearance.


DA volleyball lost its final regular season game on the road vs. North Raleigh Christian Academy, the state tournament’s No. 1 seed and defending state champion. The 3–0 game was the Cavs’ first defeat of the season, having only given up two sets in their previous seven games. The Knights came out strong in the first set, toppling the Cavs 25–12. DA lost the next two sets 25–5 and 16–25. 

The team, now 7–1, earned the No. 2 seed in the East region of the state tournament and will host Wake Christian Academy Friday at 4:30 p.m. in the 4A NCISAA state quarterfinal.This will be the third matchup of the season between the Cavs and the Bulldogs, with DA leading the series 2-0. 



Keeping up with the Cavs

As always, you can keep up with the Cavs on Durham Academy’s website and the Durham Academy App (available on the Apple App Store).

  • For a list of all teams, their schedules and directions to games, visit
  • 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.
  • 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 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.