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Sticking together

D.H. Conley soccer players still together since youth league

041919-Conley Soccer

Haven Best (second from left), Maeve English (center) and Jenna Rupp (front right) celebrate after winning a youth soccer tournament on January 28, 2012.

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

On Jan. 28, 2012, deep into penalty kicks during a youth soccer game, goalkeeper Maeve English stepped to the marker looking to win it all for her team. English nailed the kick, leading to her teammates lifting her up on their shoulders in celebration.

Flash forward seven years and a large piece of that 2012 youth team still takes the field together wearing the same uniform. English, Sarah McGee, Mary McKnight, Jenna Rupp and Haven Best are all still on the same roster, only now they take the field at Hollywood Crossroads as members of the D.H. Conley girls soccer team. 

Other members of that group have gone elsewhere, such as Aidan Alread, Isabella Corder and Bridget Kenny suiting up for the rival J.H. Rose Rampants, and Megan Blair and Annabelle Avarette play for Parrott Academy in Kinston. 

Rupp, Best and English still remember that 2012 nail-biter vividly. 

“I remember it clearly because it came down to the last penalty kick,” Rupp, a junior forward, said. “Maeve scored and we won the tournament. It was just so memorable because it was one of the last years I played where my dad coached my team.” 

The Vikings are 19-1, 12-0 this season, and have clinched the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference’s top spot. DHC is also ranked 15th in HighSchoolOT’s Top 25 state rankings.

English, a junior goalkeeper, said her game-winner will be a moment she always remembers.

“That day that picture was taken was a really awesome moment,” English said. “I hold that really close to my heart. That’s one of my best memories for sure.”

Best, a senior forward, is in her final go-round with the Vikings. Her final game this season could be the last time she takes the field with her longtime teammates. 

“Since it’s my last year, it’s a bittersweet moment since I’ve played with some of these girls for so long,” Best said. “We want to win big in the playoffs. It adds a lot of emotion to the season because I want to be there and help them go far in the playoffs.”

The girls have grown and changed since that 2012 game, but the fun is still there, just as it was in the past. 

“It’s funny because we’ve all grown up together,” Rupp said. “We’ve been friends for so long, I remember playing with these girls when we were in U4. We were three years old and could barely kick the ball.

“Now, we’ve all grown up personality-wise and in our soccer development. It’s great to see how far we’ve come and how far this team has come, because most of the girls I played with back then I still play with and we’re still winning games together.”

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.

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