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OPINION: Soccer teams bring excitement to fall season
Thursday, November 14, 2013
By CHRIS PRIDE - Bulletin Sports Editor
The clocks have been turned back an hour, the leaves are falling and the days and nights are getting colder. That leads me to believe that winter is right around the corner.
With prep and college basketball games already starting, it’s evident that a change of seasons is upon us. But before I switch my attention to the winter season and the surprises it may bring, I’m not quite done remembering the fall.
After all, I still have a little more than a month before it’s officially winter.
There’s no denying football in the fall is what excites most sports fans. I do love football, but I prefer a more traditional use of the word — the football that is played only with the feet.
This fall’s soccer scene with Carlisle School and Patrick Henry Community College teams provided optimism for the future while also dishing out a bit of heartbreak. The Chiefs made the Virginia Independent School Athletic Association Division II state final for the second straight season only to see another tough loss in the end.
PHCC, on the other hand, made strides, with each team making the NJCAA Region X semifinals.
All three programs featured its share of accomplishments, and I want to go back and look at some of those each team had this season.
Let’s start with the Patriots women. Last year, coach Larry Wylie — who also coaches the Bassett boys soccer team in the spring — had to endure a season with no wins, no goals and a roster that barely had enough to field a starting 11.
This year, with the great crop of freshman and a few local products, the PHCC women took a huge step forward.
The Lady Patriots finished with seven wins, and were on the wrong end of a few one-goal matches that could’ve possibly increased their win total. They scored on teams such as Louisburg and Spartanburg Methodist, teams that routed PHCC last season.
Bassett graduate Alvalous Barbour made several quality starts in goal before transitioning to a field player later in the season. G.W.-Danville grad Khadijah Wilson also provided a much needed scoring punch up top. She combined well with Fredericksburg native Larissa Ayo well, with Ayo leading the team with eight goals and eight assists.
Martinsville’s Sarah Draper also was a key part to the team’s midfield, and next season the Patriots could eclipse 10 wins in their third season as a program.
“When you look at that, that’s huge. Those are big strides within a year,” Wylie said. “The freshman have seen that you have to be strong when you go up against these top junior colleges and four-year schools.”
As for the men, there were some more growing pains, but also a 15-win season to be proud of. The sophomore class which featured Bassett grads Lucas Prillaman — who scored the winning PK in a Region X playoff win — Jake Sharpe and Bill Ison along with MHS grad Bryson Collins set a good foundation this season.
Ison and Prillaman were each named to the all-Region X second team. Ison made 112 saves and had seven shutouts in recording a 1.92 GAA. Prillaman was an instrumental piece the PHCC defense and added an assist to his lone goal of the season.
“(This season) was what I was hoping for, but I’m not sure I expected it,” head coach Scott Haywood said. “I think this year, this group has set a tone for the program has a whole, and much of that credit goes to the sophomores. They had to suffer through some things last season that this year’s freshmen didn’t.
“It’s looking great. It really is. A lot of the freshmen got a lot of playing time all over the field — defenders, forwards, midfielders. The redshirters have not only next year but the following year to play, which is awesome. I think the sky is the limit.”
Other sophomores Uli Rios and Oscar Ulloa will be missed as well. Each were Region X first team members as Ulloa recorded seven goals and five assists, while Rios added six goals and three assists.
While finishing one win shy of double digits last season, the PHCC men increased their win total by six this season and were also a respectable 9-5-1 in the Region. The season ended with a 5-2 loss to Spartanburg Methodist College (S.C.) in the Region X semifinals.
That takes us to the lone prep soccer team in the fall and that’s the Carlisle boys. What a run the team had in 2013.
I know it hurts to hear the phrase “runner-up” again if you are a Chiefs fan, but sometimes in the game of soccer, the better team doesn’t always win that one match that means the most. Something Carlisle has had to deal with now two years in a row.
However, for this year’s talented senior class, nothing can take away from a number of milestones. 14 shutouts this season, 22 wins and an incredible 18-game winning streak that regrettably ended with Friday’s 1-0 loss in the state final to Covenant in Richmond.
The future for this team is bright also. Head coach Enda Crehan will be sad to see his senior class go, one that he has seen the most development in his three years at Carlisle. But with leading scorer Kizza Edward returning as a sophomore, the freshman this season made an immediate impact in the Virginia Independent Conference.
The native of Uganda scored a team-high 37 goals this season to go with eight assists. Fellow Uganda teammate Andrew Okiring will be a senior next season and had seven goals and 12 assists. Sophomore Franklin Warren may be a key outside midfielder and has the versatility to move around the pitch as he added seven goals and eight assists this fall.
The season had all the makings of ending with a state title — the top goal for the senior class — unfortunately the Hollywood script didn’t come to fruition. It still doesn’t take away how proud Crehan is of the group that is leaving and the group that is returning next season.
“Everyone has bought into what the program is about and where we are trying to go,” Crehan said. “We are trying to achieve big things, and the seniors are a testament to the school on and off the field.”
I may have the English Premier League to watch weekend mornings and the occasional UEFA Champions League match on weekday afternoons during the fall. It’s all I got to give me my soccer fix until the Piedmont kicks up again the spring.