Both coaches and some of their players have been there, done that – played for and won state titles.
But the chase for the ultimate team goal is still and exciting prospect for veteran coaches Terry Hughes and Jeff Miles.
Hughes, the girls soccer coach at Asheville Christian Academy, and Miles, boys lacrosse coach at Christ School, will lead their teams toward that elusive plaque on Saturday.
ACA (13-2-3) will battle unbeaten Christ the King (14-0-2) for the NCISAA title at 1:30 p.m. at Campbell University.
And the Greenies (16-3) will attempt to give Miles his second straight NCISAA championship when they host Providence Day (18-4) at 11 a.m.
In his 11th season with the Lions, Hughes has now taken the program to the state title game four times in the last five seasons. ACA won the state championship in 2015 and is 58-8-8 in that span.
“We lost six seniors on the team that went to the state finals last year, but we have some good young talent,” said Hughes.
Among the young talent is leading scorer Reese Waites, a freshman with 15 goals, and 8th-grader Kayla Graham (six goals, six assists).
The glue of the team is Brantley Compton, a junior who has eight goals and runs the team from the middle of the field. She is the Carolinas Athletic Association Player of the Year.
“She is a very steady, consistent player,” said Hughes. “Brantley is the player that makes our team go.”
At the back end, the defense is led by goalkeeper Emma Newton, who is playing in her third state title game of the season. She was a member of the 27-0 volleyball team that won a championship and also played basketball for a Lions squad that lost to perennial power Carolina Day in the title game.
Newton has 67 saves and seven shutouts this season.
The Greenies won the NCISAA title last season in Miles’ 15th season at the helm, finishing with a 17-5 record.
The talented team features three seniors who will play Division I lacrosse next season – Hunter Vines (High Point), Alex Byron (Furman) and Max Brie (St. Bonaventure).
Vines is the school’s all-time leader in goals scored and recently passed the 100-point mark on the season, a rare feat.
“About half of our starters from last year were back, and they were our key leaders,” said Miles.
“Hunter has had a great year athletically and academically, and he’s a real leader of the team.
“Alex is the leader of our defense and he has also had a great season.”
Christ School and Asheville School are the only WNC schools that play lacrosse, which means most of the Greenies’ games are against talented competition in the Charlotte area.
“We do travel a lot, but it allows us to play a really tough schedule,” said Miles.
In an earlier meeting this season, the Greenies handled Providence Day 17-5, but Miles expects a tougher battle on Saturday.
“We have enough guys from last year’s team that knows what the expectations are and what it takes to get there,” Miles said.
“We all know where we want to be at the end of the season.”