The wait is over. West Iredell's search for its first N.C. High School Athletic Association state playoff victory at home ended Tuesday night.
The Warriors (15-5), seeded No. 13 in the 2A West, eliminated No. 20 seed Ashe County in the opening round by virtue of a 5-1 victory.
"Hopefully this will be something special they can look back on," West Iredell coach David Heintz said.
Catawba College signee Helen Summerell pocketed two goals in the opening 12 minutes. She banked the first ball in off the right post barely 2 minutes in.
When Huskies defender Gracie Fairchild overran the ball in attempt to take a pass to Summerell away it set up the second goal. The West Iredell senior dribbled in on goal and tucked a shot in the left side of the net.
Four minutes later Summerell got kicked in the right leg when a Huskies defender cleared the ball out of bounds. She was helped off the field and didn't return.
"She cannot catch a break," Heintz said of the reigning county player of the year, who's nursed several injuries this season. "We were being precautious. That's why we kept her out."
Her teammates picked up the slack.
Jackie Garcia fed the ball to Kendall Brown for a goal in the 23rd minute, and the Warriors carried that 3-0 lead into halftime.
Ashe County's Emma Calloway narrowly slipped a shot past Warriors goalkeeper Angelina Hendricks less than 3 minutes into the second half to trim the deficit.
But the Warriors responded. The Huskies were whistled for a handball inside the penalty area on a West Iredell free kick. Senior defender Miriam Tomerlin, who played exceptional on the back line, stepped up and buried the subsequent penalty kick to make it 4-1 in the 52nd minute.
"She has improved tremendously over the last couple of years," Heintz said of Tomerlin, who signed with Guilford College. "She's one of those players that any coach would love to have."
Nicole Rhyne punctuated the scoring in the final two minutes with a well-place shot inside the far post.
"Real proud of the way the team stepped up in (Summerell's) absence," Heintz said.
Hendricks finished with two saves for the Warriors, who improved to 4-10 all-time in the state playoffs. Their other three wins all came on the road.
Goalie Sophia Kiser made nine saves for Ashe County (14-6).
With the victory the Warriors advanced to play either No. 4 seed Belmont South Point (12-1) or No. 29 North Lincoln (7-13) next.
The second round will be played either Thursday or Friday.
"I like our chances," Heintz said.