Only two games into the season, and the Alcovy boys’ soccer team is on the cusp of exceeding last year’s win total.
The Tigers, who finished just 3-11 in 2011, are off to their best start in years after defeating Shiloh 1-0 to open the season and Locust Grove 6-2 on Thursday.
Adding more credence to an improvement is the score of Alcovy’s exhibition with Rutland, in which it scored nine goals, the most in four years for the Tigers.
The 9-4 win over Rutland was Alcovy’s first action since a hard offseason, which featured a week long summer camp at Coastal Carolina.
Alcovy coach Chris Edgar took his team there, for the first time in the Tigers’ six-year history, to improve on its on-field skills and team unity.
The players woke up from the Coastal Carolina dorms, headed off to a morning training session, followed by an afternoon session and capped off by an evening match. One day was particularly grueling, in which the campers worked out in a heavy rain storm, leaving them soaked from head to cleat.
“It was a really intense camp,” Edgar said “They were absolutely beat in terms of physical play, because they got a ton of work in, which was really good. It carried on to their club teams in the fall and the two teams we played indoor soccer. We’ve been playing well since camp.”
The Tigers carried 13 players from last years team, with seven of them being juniors. Eight underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) joined the Tigers this season, leading Edgar to instill some camaraderie. He got that camaraderie at the camp in Clinton, S.C.
Although there were plenty of training sessions and hard work, the players still had plenty of time to hang out. They were constantly around each other in the dorms, eating each meal together and spending down time with each other after training.
“They were around teammates for 24 hours a day,” Edgar said. “One kid brought an X-Box and they held X-Box tournaments at night. It really helped the unity of the team.”
The unity is showing, not only in the nine-goal outburst, but also in the aftermath of a one-point win at Shiloh.
“Coming off the scrimmage, that was the first time Alcovy boys ever scored nine goals, and our guys were a little cocky,” Edgar said. “We frankly got outplayed (against Shiloh) but our keeper came up big several times, and we were able to manage a goal late int eh game and get the win.”
Following that slim victory, the Tigers defeated Locust Grove 6-2, with three goals coming from junior Uriel D’Andrade
“We passed the ball better than any team I had at Alcovy,” Edgar said. “I would say that we probably had possession at least 75 percent of the game.”
The Tigers play a control game out of a 4-4-2 formation, with two players up front on attack. Freshman Tyrik Francis, junior Rysan Richardson and junior Luke Hall will be the point of the attack, rotating at the forward spots.
In the midfield is captian Daniel Grothaus, D’Andrade, Jordan Adair and others who will rotate in.
Edgar said the defense will be fluid with junior Derick Felix and freshman Daniel Mejia anchoring the lineup.
The goalkeeper spot is still up for grabs with junior Shawn Trowbridge getting the start against Shiloh and senior Stephen Aycox going against Locust Grove.
“I still don’t know who I’m going to pick,” Edgar said. “I may not pick until before the Newton game (on Feb. 28), and I may not even pick until that day.”
Even with the uncertainty of the goalkeeper position, Edgar feels Alcovy can build on its early success.
“The No. 1 goal is to make the state playoffs,” Edgar feels. “To do that we have to at least be in the top four in our region, which I think we have a good shot to do. I think we have a realistic chance of achieving those goals this year.”