06/02/06 — Record setters - Eagles' Thibodeau, Behrend re-write Rosewood history books

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Record setters - Eagles' Thibodeau, Behrend re-write Rosewood history books

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on June 2, 2006 2:25 PM

Rosewood seniors' Stephanie Behrend and Erin Thibodeau own every scoring and assist record at their high school -- combining for 226 goals and 142 assists in their four years together.

They are obviously pleased with those gaudy individual numbers.

What soccer player wouldn't be?

But both standouts admit; those statistics would mean virtually nothing without helping lead the Eagles to numerous wins and four-straight playoff berths over the course of their career.

After coming up short in the first round of the Classes 1-A/2-A N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs in their first three trips, appropriately, Behrend and Thibodeau were key in helping the Eagles get that elusive first postseason win. The duo combined for seven goals and three assists -- four goals coming in the first 20 minutes -- as Rosewood cruised past Franklinton, 8-2 in the first round of the 2006 playoffs.

"I think we came out here with the same idea ... we wanted to win," Behrend said. "It wasn't really about how many goals we scored. We just wanted to score because it helped the team."

Behrend, a midfielder, did a lot of helping. To go along with 71 goals on her career, the Mount Olive College signee dished out 92 assists, including 39 in her senior campaign.

Rosewood coach Eddie Maldonado, himself a college soccer player at MOC, believed Behrend would have been the leading scorer on most other teams, but her role for the Eagles was to dominate the midfield and consistently fuel the offensive attack. Often, her dribbling would draw several extra defenders -- leaving Thibodeau open for a pass through or over the top of the defense.

"They always talk about what they can do together," Maldonado said. "Never once were they jealous of each other and what the other was doing. The other girls on the team saw that."

Thibodeau's numbers were just as impressive. The speedy forward notched an eye-popping 155 goals on her career and dished out 50 assists. In her senior season, Thibodeau -- a Belmont Abbey signee -- posted 55 goals and 19 assists. On top of that, she garnered three team MVP awards voted on by her teammates.

"When we came in as freshman, I didn't expect us to do this well," Thibodeau said. "Through the years, we were able to continue to work well together."

For all of their accomplishments and ability to guide Rosewood to uncharted territory, Behrend and Thibodeau are the 2006 co-News-Argus Girl's Soccer Players of the Year.

Maldonado obviously knows the duo will be nearly impossible to replace. But he hopes the bar they have set for the program will continue to be an example for a solid corps of returning players -- including all-conference selections Rachel McCormick, Mary Jo Moore and Kelly Cosgrove.

"There is no way we can replace two girls like that. It's very rare to have girls of that caliber at a school, especially one this size," Maldonado said. "The girls coming back have seen how hard they work, and they know they've got to work just as hard to achieve those goals. The girls look up to them.

"They've set a great example, not just with their skill level but with their work ethic."

Those dynamic skills and work ethics have landed Behrend, Thibodeau and fellow senior, goalie Molly Grantham (Lees-McRae), on collegiate rosters next season. Adding to their list of "firsts," the trio are the first RHS soccer players to play at the next level.

Coincidentally, both Behrend and Thibodeau will be battling as Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference rivals next season as Behrend will stay close to home at MOC, while Thibodeau heads to Belmont Abbey. Both are winning programs as the Trojans won the 2004 conference title and were runner-up to the Crusaders in 2005.

Sure, they will be on opposing teams and feasibly could be going head-to-head in the 2006 CVAC final. But after such a successful high school experience, both admit it will be tough to pull against each other.

"It will be a battle on the field, but it's going to be fun. I think we're both ready," Behrend said.

If their high school years are any indication, there is no doubt this duo is prepared.