NRHS soccer expects improvement

Published 10:34pm Thursday, March 7, 2013

Though the Nansemond River boys’ soccer team enters this season with only five or six returning players out of 20 that formed the 2012 squad, the core that head coach Dustin Tordoff had been working with remains.

Tordoff enters his third year coaching the Warriors, and he noted how last year fits into his history with the team.

Junior center midfielder Gabe Everette practices on Thursday afternoon at Nansemond River High School. Everette, who led the Warriors in scoring last year, is expected to be vital to the success of the 2013 squad.
Junior center midfielder Gabe Everette practices on Thursday afternoon at Nansemond River High School. Everette, who led the Warriors in scoring last year, is expected to be vital to the success of the 2013 squad.

“We ended up 5-9, which was a pretty big drop from the first year I was here,” he said. “We played a much tougher schedule, a lot of Beach schools. A lot of close games just didn’t go our way.”

One major variable that affects the fate of many teams in the district this year is the new restriction placed upon players who are part of certain travel ball teams, or “academy” teams, as Tordoff referred to them. These teams have adjusted from 10-month schedules to 12-month schedules, and they prohibit their players from playing for their respective school teams because it would be in conflict.

This restriction has removed some key players from the Warriors team that were on it last year, but it has not derailed the upcoming season. In fact, Tordoff expects to have a deep team.

“As far as my expectations go, we’re going to field a competitive team,” he said. “At the beginning of the season, everybody looks good and then start dropping off, people with injuries, different things. It’s hard to forecast to the end, but I feel like it would be a disappointment if we didn’t make the district tournament this year being that we got seventh last year.”

Only the top six teams in the district qualify for the district tourney.

“I think our team this year is better,” Tordoff said. “We have more depth this year, for sure.”

He said that while the Warriors have had really good individual players in the past, they haven’t really had “the depth of an 11-man team, and I think, this year, we can go even as deep as 14, 15 kids that have the ability to step in and be just as good as the next guy.”

The alumni from the 2012 squad will be big factors.

“And then you supplement in a lot of the young guys that we got this year, which our ninth-grade class is fantastic,” he said. “I think last year we had two freshmen, the year before we had one, this year we’ve got six, and each one of them probably is going to get substantial playing time. We might even have three or four of them starting for us.”

Upperclassmen will be the expected leaders on the forward, midfield and defensive lines. Gabe Everette will be of significant importance.

“He’s a returning player, he’ll be a captain for us this year,” Tordoff said. “He’s center midfielder, led the team in goals last year as a sophomore with 11, 10 or 11, I believe. Dribbling, he’s the shiftiest kid I think I’ve had in a while, but he’s going to be a key cog to the whole flow of the team. He’s going to control the entire midfield which will control the forwards which will control what we’re doing on defense.”

On defense, Tordoff is counting on the speed and tenacity of senior Nate Chandler.

“If we know he’s going to be there and shutting down the strong side of the defense, then that makes it a lot easier for us to go out and have a tactical approach to what we’re going to do,” he said.

Senior Zach Thomas will get the chance to take charge as a forward.

“We had a guy who scored in the mid-20s of goals two years ago, and Zach was the guy next to him,” Tordoff said. “And then last year, one of the academy kids was up top a lot. So this year is his opportunity to really get it going. He had, I think, eight goals last year as a junior, so he’s expected to really step up this year.”

Tordoff expects the typical challenges of keeping high school kids focused and competing in a fiercely challenging district, but the first seven non-district games of the regular season will give the team a chance to find its footing. The season begins this Monday on the road against Maury High School.

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