Patrick Henry Community College men’s soccer team already has a signature win so far this season, defeating Richard Bland, a Region X rival, 4-3 to open the season.
The Patriots followed that with an 11-1 win over Paul D. Camp at home Saturday night. PHCC comes into 2019 with a revamped roster, featuring more than 20 players from Brazil, who join a host of local talent.
PHCC head coach Brennan Murphy spoke with the Bulletin after the game about his hopes for the upcoming season.
Bulletin: What have you seen from your team so far?
Murphy: I’m extremely impressed. We have a ways to go, a couple little tweaks we need to make especially to reach the goals we’re trying to get to. I told the guys at the start of the season the aspirations are to win the region and hopefully make it to nationals. I’m impressed with the results, not too pleased with the goal we conceded there at the end. So hopefully we can learn from that, tweak a couple things, come back and fire away again on Wednesday.
This being your second season, you have more control over recruiting and roster construction than last year. What have you been trying to build with the roster?
BM: Obviously we do have a very, very strong core of internationals. We have 23 Brazilians on the team. We have a couple guys from Trinidad as well, but the one thing I tried to do this year was bridge that with local talent as well. So we have Wilson Bowles from Martinsville High School, Taylor Roberts from Carlisle, Gonzalo Vargas from Bassett, a couple guys that are getting a lot of playing time. Wilson even starts for us. So I’m trying to bridge the internationals just because we do play in the hardest, or one of the hardest, regions in the country. If I don’t get internationals it’s hard to compete in that sense, but it’s excellent to see local talent bridging in that well with them and the pace not being off at all. It’s impressive for me. And it hopefully also gets more people in the stands as well.
The players, too, seem to be meshing well together. Have you seen that?
BM: One thing that I preach above all else is family. Obviously it’s cliché and a lot of people say that, but I do, I put an extreme intensive perspective on it just off the fact that I feel like chemistry is everything. You could have the most talented group in the world, but if they’re not willing to fight for each other the results won’t come. So we put that idea first and hopefully our skill and our ability will take us the rest of the way.
Scoring 11 goals in a game is really impressive. What have you seen out of the offense in two games this season?
BM: Obviously we have a lot of threats going forward so we try to utilize that, press high off the ball, keep the intensity high. Just due to the fact that if we have it we might as well use it in that sense. So we like to press high, but there’s some things we need to work on, a couple things we need to tweak in practice, but I could see us fixing that and hopefully coming in strong for the rest of the year.
What do you think will be your team’s strength this season?
BM: We’re just so diverse. I think we have a lot of different ways, a lot of different weapons we can use to hurt people. So as long as we stay strong and keep that family chemistry going I really do think the sky’s the limit for us.
What’ the biggest thing you’re trying to work on?
BM: Biggest thing for us is our defensive stability. Obviously we’re a team that’s built on maintaining possession of the ball and staying calm, trying not to force things as much, keep going. A lot of the guys want to make a name for themselves so trying to teach them to be patient, their time will come, and things like that. We also have a team that has 42 guys on it so also trying to keep the guys on the fringes competitive as well. So if we can do that, honestly the main goal is winning the region this year.
Like you said, Region X is extremely tough, but in the last few years PH has been close to the top, right there at the end of the season. What’s the key to getting over the hump this season?
BM: We are blessed enough where we actually beat one of our rivals, Richard Bland, 4-3 last week in overtime, so that’s a huge step for us. Honestly, the region goes through Louisburg. So we play Louisburg on October 2, we play them here at 6 p.m. So honestly if we can keep the momentum high, don’t’ have an off night, that game that night should decide a lot for us.
Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.