Carlisle School is expected to challenge the Raiders for supremacy in the conference.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
For most schools in Timesland, soccer players are the boys of spring. But private schools take to the pitch in the cooling autumn days. Two of the state’s powerhouse teams in the private school ranks hail from Western Virginia, including defending state champion North Cross.
The Raiders took the Virginia Independent Schools Division II championship, winning a 1-0 decision over the Carlisle School of Martinsville.
It was the third time the Raiders defeated Carlisle, including once in the regular season, followed by one-goal wins in the conference tournament title game and the state championship.
Both teams are expected to be strong again, so look for a renewal of a great regional rivalry.
Conference: Virginia Independent Conference, Division II.
Coach: James Brown 6th season
Last year: 24-0 VIS Division II state champions
Returning starter: 6
Players to watch: GK Bennett Holley, Jr.; M Christopher Pollock, Sr.; M Ezra Zigarwi, Sr.; M Jonty Ch imbera, Sr.; D. Brandon Campbell, Soph.
2012 summary: The Raiders had a special season, undefeated in 24 games (one by forfeit). Holley allowed only nine goals all season, recording 16 shutouts en route to first team all-state honors. Zigarwi tallied 20 goals while Pollock had 10 and Chambera booted eight.
Outlook: The Raiders are riding a 27-match winning streak, including the first three matches of this season. “Technically, we’re still pretty good,” Brown says. A strong performance by Holley will make the Raiders a formidable opponent for anyone. The Raiders lost five starters to graduation, but having an attack led by Pollock, Ch imbera and Zigarwi will allow them as much scoring punch as ever. Two freshman and an eighth grader are among the starters, but Brown said all are extremely talented. Zigarwi and Ch imbera are from Zimbabwe, but fit in to the Raiders team like they’ve been playing on the Colonial Avenue campus their entire lives. Zigarwi scored the lone goal of the state title game last season from an assist from Pollock, an offensive combination that makes the Raiders favorites to contend for a second title.
Conference: Virginia Independent Conference, Division II
Coach: Enda Crehan, third season.
Last season: 18-4, lost in VIS Division II championship game
Returning starters: 8
Players to watch: GK Mitchell Hamlett, Sr.; D. Jermaine Soyka, Sr.; D. Michael Ratliff, Sr.; D. Bennett White, Sr.; M Drewry Hall, Sr.; M. Osman OSillah, Sr.
2012 Summary: The Chiefs lost four games a year ago, with three of those losses coming to North Cross. Despite seeing a reduction in offensive output (3 G/g in 2012, down from 4.7 G/g in 2011) the defense stepped up and kept them elite in the private school ranks. Hamlett allowed only 15 goals and recorded 13 shutouts last season. He has yet to allow a goal this season.
Outlook: Carlisle is 35-5 in the two seasons Crehan has been the coach. The goal of this team, led by its five seniors, is to be the best of the best, and it’s entirely possible the Chiefs could achieve that goal this season. Carlisle outshot North Cross 9-7 in the state final game and was a lucky bounce here or there away from winning the title. Crehan said those players, who have been the core of the team since he arrived at the school in 2011, will be the key to success. The Chiefs play at the Smith River Sports Complex in Henry County where they are 20-1 in the last two season, their lone loss coming in penalty kicks.
Roanoke Valley Christian
Conference: Virginia Association of Christian Athletics, Southeast Division
Coach: Stephen McBride (sixth season)
Last season: 14-4-1 (lost in state quarterfinals)
Returning starters: 6
Players to watch: F Will Butler, Sr.; M Joseph Shepherd Sr.; D. Landon Park, Sr.; F. Jonathan Webb, Jr.; M. Jeremy Williams, Jr.; GK Sam Irvin, Jr.
2012 Summary: Five senior starters a year ago led RVCS to the southeast district title and a second place finish in the south region. The Eagles made the state quarterfinals before falling to Grace Academy of Staunton. Butler led the Eagles with 23 goals a season ago. Second-leading scorer Webb (16G) is also back.
Outlook: Only juniors and seniors are varsity players at RVCS, so only 13 players are on the roster. This means everyone must be prepared for heavy minutes and there can be no weak links. Despite this pressure, RVCS has a well-rounded team that’s expected to do well in the VACA. The six seniors are all returning starters. “We should win our district and will battle with New Covenant (Lynchburg) for the region,” McBride said.