06/11/18 — GIRLS' SOCCER: Class of the CPIC -- WCDS' Ellis reflects on Chargers' successful season

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GIRLS' SOCCER: Class of the CPIC -- WCDS' Ellis reflects on Chargers' successful season

By Aviel Smolka
Published in Sports on June 11, 2018 5:51 AM



Since Steve Ellis arrived at Wayne Country Day five years ago they have been a force to be reckoned with on the soccer pitch -- especially the girls' team.

"The past five years have been great," he said.

The Chargers have won four straight Coastal Plains Independent 1-A Conference titles and five of the last six overall since 2013. The last four teams have posted a combined record of 45-20-3 since 2015.

Ellis credits his success to walking the line between fun and seriousness.

"You've got to make sure the kids are having fun if they're not having fun and learning you're always going to struggle," he said. "You've got find the balance where you can have fun with the players, but then they know they have to be serious in certain aspects. You have to have a bond, you have to relate to every player."

Last season, Wayne Country Day finished 15-2-1 and lost to eventual state champ Kerr-Vance Academy in the quarterfinals of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A playoffs. The Chargers were riding an 11-game win streak at the time.

Despite ending on a down note, Ellis described it as a successful year.

"At the start of the season I felt it was the strongest group that we've had in a while," Ellis said. "As the season went on I thought we did really well."

Langley Barnes (48 goals, 11 assists) and Hayden Nielsen (22 goals, 15 assists) led the WCDS offense. Barnes was an NCISAA All-State pick for the fourth time, while Nielsen was All-State for the second straight year.

Both return next season for the Chargers, who lost four seniors to graduation. Ellis expects another big season from his two stars.

"They [Barnes and Nielsen] work quite well off each other," Ellis said. "Both of them played great last season and I expect them to play great next season. Having three seniors on the back line enabled us to get the ball forward quicker and break through lines, next year will be different because of losses.

"It's almost like a rebuilding year. They were a huge part of our success. Next year with those three missing I'll have to rework the team."

Wayne Country Day moves to 2-A this fall.

Ellis looks forward to the challenge.

"I'm excited about it," Ellis said. "I'm not expecting for the results to be as good as this year, but it's something we'll roll with and we'll see what we can do. With girls' soccer not having a JV team it will be tough.

"Nobody has been set to replace the pieces we lost."

Ellis added 2-A teams should watch out for his club.

"With our success the past five years I'm sure they will be worrying about us as much as we'll be worrying about them," he said.

Ellis is also the driving force behind Wayne County United Soccer Club, an organization on the rise. He has been the director of coaching for four years.

"The number of players we've brought into the club has grown each year," Ellis said. "We have players from every high school in the area. It's exciting that there is that correlation between playing in high school and wanting to push yourself on in out of school season."

Ellis expects the small club to see an increase in numbers.

"It's always growing," he said. "The kids are returning to play each season. The club is always looking for players. It's good everything links together and it's working so far.

"I'm looking forward to it. It's an exciting time. We'll see what happens."