News-Argus Soccer Player of the Year -- Andrew Corley
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on November 15, 2004 1:56 PM
When the season started, Eastern Wayne soccer coach Jorg Wagner needed a consistent, complementary player to play alongside senior forward Joe Gossett.
He got that from junior Andrew Corley -- and a lot more.
Corley, a junior varsity player last season, led the balanced Warriors with 21 goals, added eight assists and meshed well with his teammates.
"Joe was set on taking that spot, but we were looking for a player who could finish with good speed," Wagner said. "Most defenses were going to focus on Joe."
Corley finished with two hat tricks (three goals) and four multiple-goal games in his junior campaign and had two game-winning goals on the road -- Greenfield School and Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference champion West Carteret. The goal against the Patriots came in dramatic fashion in the 78th minute on an assist from Jin Lee.
The forward had five goals and an assist in three playoff games, including a hat trick in the opening round against South Johnston.
After losing leading scorer Julian Graham to graduation, Corley helped the Warriors to their best ECC win total -- 10 -- since the formation of the conference in 2001. The Warriors finished at 15-5 overall, eventually falling in the Eastern semifinals at Smithfield-Selma by a 2-1 margin. Going into the game at SSS, the Warriors had won ten of their previous 11 games, including two playoff victories over South Johnston and Hertford County.
For all of these reasons, Corley -- a leader by example -- is the 2004 News-Argus Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Wagner believes a lot of Corley's success has to do with his mental approach to the game.
"He's got soccer intelligence. He's a quiet kid, and seems to think about what he wants to go. Then, he goes out and does it," he said. "He's very coachable and he reads his teammates well. Sometimes you wonder, 'Where's Andrew?,' then he goes and he scores."
On top of that, the physical aspects of his game continue to improve.
"There were good striker qualities that I saw early in the season. He finishes well, has good technique and is very quick," Wagner said. "What most impressed me is that he understood our attacking system immediately. He kept getting better and better from then on."
On a squad with solid team-speed, front-to-back, Corley benefitted when teams may have focused on Gossett. Gossett, who finished with 11 regular season goals, did his fair share of damage when opponents realized Corley was a threat.
Corley obviously enjoyed playing on a team with a multi-faceted attack.
"We put it all together. It made it a lot easier on yourself," Corley said. "You rely on them and go where your supposed to go, and they will hit you with a pass."
He chalks a lot of Eastern Wayne's success to preseason conditioning.
"It's a lot easier for us, because most teams don't condition as much as us. We have the ability to run longer and further," he said. "I still want to get better at conditioning. I want to make it where I can run a full 100 minutes if it goes into overtime and not have to come out of the game."
Corley and his twin brother, Adam, are two of nine juniors on a team that graduates eight seniors. In December, Corley will join several of his Warrior teammates on the local, '88 Sting traveling team.
Two new opponents join the ECC next season -- Wilson Hunt and Wilson Beddingfield. Eastern Wayne should bring familiarity to the new-look conference.
"I think we will still be a good team next year," Corley said. "Justin (Smith), Jin (Lee), Adam (Corley) and Eric (Bourgeois) and I have all played together for a few years now."
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