Chocolate chip pancakes and peppermint patties. The pancakes, made by senior Lindsey Marshall ’98, were part of pregame rituals. The peppermint patties reminded the players of special moments with Coach Kim Burroughs on a season-opening road trip to Charleston, SC. Friendships woven through years of club soccer games together unleashed a fury on the field and fun off the field.
The home of Lindsey and her sister, junior forward Brooke Marshall ’99 was as open as a defenseless goal to their teammates on mornings before most home games. Lindsey made chocolate chip pancakes for all, prepping the batter by 6:45 a.m. to have pancakes cooking when their teammates arrived at 7:15 a.m. The Boston College-bound player often made 50 or more pancakes on those mornings. She got the idea from her basketball team, who often ate at a local restaurant on mornings of games.
The bonds continued to develop on the team's road trip to Charleston, SC, when the Bengals defeated a pair of regional powers, including one nationally-ranked team. The trip was used to see if the Bengals were as good as their No. 7 ranking the previous season. The Bengals opened the season by defeating Summerville, SC, 7-3 and Wando, SC, 2-0. Wando was ranked No. 1 in its class and 14th nationally at the time of that game. Summerville was ranked fifth in its class.
Then came the pressure when the Bengals were ranked No. 2. Soon victories weren't just enough, but the players thought they had to win by large margins. Burroughs told his players not to be overwhelmed by the ranking and first, take the victories. They took his advice.
GDS won with an offense that could not be matched and a defense that could not be defeated. Pickens and junior forward Kelly Robinson ’99 each scored 30 goals that year. Gabi Lieb ’99 had 16 goals and junior stopper Katie Carson scored 15 goals and added nine assists.
The date was May 16, 1998.
The air mingled with excitement and sadness for the seniors of the Greensboro Day girls’ soccer team and their coach. Seniors Sarah Pickens, Lindsey Marshall, Christian Anton, and Mary Rice walked out of N.C. State's Method Road Soccer Stadium a state champion for the fourth consecutive year.
At the time, the Bengals were ranked 2nd nationally, and had collected another NC Independent Schools Athletic Association trophy and medals with a 6-0 victory against Cardinal Gibbons. The day's significance clutched Coach Kim Burroughs. “It's a very emotional day,” he said in a voice that slightly quivered. “These kids have built the program up.” Seniors Pickens, Marshall and Anton would be leaving a program that finished 21-0 for the school's first undefeated championship season.
To achieve this state championship, the Bengals beat St. Mary’s in the quarterfinals, Charlotte Country Day School in the semifinals, and Cardinal Gibbons in the finals.
The team ended the season with a 21-0 record, which extended a 43 game consecutive win streak. Then, the new national rankings came out on May 18, the second poll for the spring 1998 rating period. St. Charles, Illinois, top-ranked in the first poll, had been dethroned -- the new #1 team: Greensboro Day School.
Tim Stevens of the Raleigh News & Observer stated, “I have covered high school athletics for 30 years and this is the first time I recall any North Carolina high school team ranked #1 in a final national poll
The jubilant GDS community celebrated by having a special assembly on May 27, 1998. Head of School, Ralph Davison called out each player individually, and Coach Kim Burroughs spoke on the selflessness and special team chemistry of this group of student-athletes. Athletic Director Freddy Johnson, who had given each girl a t-shirt marking the #2 ranking, had a new set ready, which announced “Four in a row-U.S. ranked #1.”
Unfortunately, it turned out to not be the final poll. Even though at the end of the play that season, the team was ranked #1, the final poll
did not come out until June 29, 1998 and the Bengals were now ranked #2. In 1998, the spring rankings were conducted just once a month, beginning at the end of April and ending in June. According to the United Soccer Coaches, the Greensboro Day School girls were ranked No. 2 in the first poll that year (April 27, 1998) and No. 1 in the second poll on May 18, 1998.
Though team success was always a priority, the season ended with many of the players being recognized for their efforts: Sarah Pickens ’98 and Kelly Robinson ’98 were named to the all-state first team. and Sarah was named NCISAA State and Conference Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. Katie Carson ’99 made the second team all-state. The All-Conference team included Sarah Pickens ’98, Katie Carson ’99, Gabi Lieb ’99, Kelly Robinson ’99, Lindsey Marshall ’98, Landy Douglas ’00 and Brooke Marshall ’98. The All-Region team included Sarah Pickens ’98, Katie Carson ’99, Kelly Robinson ’99, Lindsey Marshall ’98, Gabi Lieb ’99, and Landy Douglas ’00. Kim Burroughs was named Coach of the Year. Sarah Pickens was named a Parade Magazine All-American.
The Roster: (Name, Graduation Year, School listed if played soccer in college)
Sarah Pickens ’98 – Duke University
Lindsey Marshall ’98 – Boston College
Christian Anton ’98
Mary Rice ’98
Annie Shulman ’99
Katie Carson ’99 – Furman University
Kelly Robinson ’99 – Florida State University
Mary Katherine Davis ’99 – Elon University
Brooke Marshall ’99 – Seton Hall University
Gabi Lieb ’99 - Wake Forest University
Emily Norman ’00
Landy Douglas ’00
Christie McGroarty ’00
Lauren Groat ’00
Kathleen Martin ’00
Suzanne Cole ’01 – George Washington University
Jenny Gilrain ’01
Jenne Kwiatowski ’01
Kirsten Paul ’01
Kendra Kasik ’02
Whether they technically finished #1 or #2, this team will always be remembered as one of the most special teams to ever play at Greensboro Day School as they remain the only team in GDS history to reach a number 1 national ranking. Their legacy will live on as long as they eat pancakes and peppermint patties!
Several former players submitted quotes as they reflect on the 20th anniversary of being ranked #1 in the nation.
“I don't have just one particular memory about the 1998 experience that stands out; but I will say that playing soccer at GDS with that group was like no other. Even playing competitively outside of school and going on to college, it was amazing how much that team just clicked. The dynamics came together naturally and even though we worked very hard, there was also this sense that of course we should be doing great things collectively. There was definitely a feeling that as a whole we were so much more than any individual which I don't think I have experienced since.” – Katie Carson Goss ’99
“Being a part of the 1998 girls’ soccer team was a memory of a lifetime. Under the leadership of Coach Burroughs, building off of the trails blazed by older teammates (and handing off the legacy to younger teammates), the 1998 girls soccer team got to experience something bigger than themselves - to be a part of a true team, and to put blood, sweat, and tears into earning the #1 spot in the nation in girls soccer. There is something special about high school sports--which is disappointing considering the significant attrition of teenage sport participation today. High school sports offers a chance for student athletes to connect outside of the classroom, build relationships with students in different grades, and learn to collaborate to achieve something together. The impact soccer had on my life, through lessons learned both on and off the field, is literally why I do what I do at the U.S. Soccer Foundation. I am honored to be a part of the Bengals 1998 team - a crazy fun mix of dedicated, passionate girls (now women!) that figured out how to climb our way to the top!” – Sarah Pickens ’98
“Looking back on those glory days, the greatest part about our team was that we loved the game and always had fun. We looked forward to practice every day and I believe that is why we were such a successful team year after year and ultimately became #1 in the nation. We truly loved the game. We played and beat teams in every conference in the state as well as from around the country. We earned our spot at the top and couldn't be beat!” – Brooke Marshall Moran ’99