Chargers start slow, claim CPIC boys' soccer title
By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on October 18, 2013 1:48 PM
Few expected Year 2 of the Steve Ellis coaching era to result in a conference championship for the Wayne Country Day boys' soccer program.
Oh, but it did.
The Chargers overcame a slow early-season start to clinch their first-ever Coastal Plains Independent 1-A/2-A title on their home pitch last Friday. They secured the automatic bid to the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A playoffs and entertain Shannon Forest (S.C.) in first-round play today.
Kickoff is 3 p.m.
One month ago, WCDS didn't appear on the postseason radar. A difficult pre-conference schedule resulted in a 1-5-1 worksheet that left the players frustrated. Ellis and his staff decided to break down the schedule one game at a time and reorganize the team's focus.
"The problem with the start of the season, the second half we always switched off (the intensity)," Ellis said. "When we got over that mental block, the boys realized 'we can be as good in the 2nd half as we are in the 1st half.' Then they kept growing.
"Also, at the start of the season, we were trying a few things out -- informational-wise and position-wise. As soon as we figured out what the best thing was, we stuck to it and tinkered with a few things."
One win led to two.
Two wins led to three.
Three wins led to four and so on.
When one week remained in regular-season play, Wayne Country Day found itself in the thick of the CPIC title chase. The Chargers cobbled out a 5-1 win over Freedom Christian on their home pitch and avoided a three-way tie with FCA and Epiphany for championship.
"We worked on (playing a complete game) throughout the season," said Miller Gerrard, one of six seniors on the team. "We just never gave up and kept on pushing through. Our determination is what got us here."
Bothered by individual play throughout the early stages of the season, the Chargers (10-6-1 overall) gained considerable confidence as a team during their first meeting with Greenfield -- a 3-0 shutout win -- in early September. They defeated Oakwood by a single goal three days later, and dropped a one-goal decision to Epiphany.
WCDS didn't lose again.
"We've stopped trying to play as if we were playing FIFA (on Xbox)," Ellis said. "We wanted to play as a team instead of an 'X' player doing all of this footwork staff that he doesn't need to do, but make a pass and move into space to receive the ball."
The Chargers carry a seven-game win streak into the postseason. They have outscored the opposition 26-11 and fashioned a 4-0-0 record in one-goal games during that span.
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