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Cougar Soccer working hard in the off-season

sports logoBy CHRIS CASTLE

Special to the SWT

How do we improve?

That was a question asked numerous times in the Cougar soccer locker room at the end of the 2013 season.

There were several different answers given, but the most common one was simple … commitment.  Head coach Ricky Wright highly encouraged all his players to make a commitment to improve in the off-season.

The best way to do that is to play travel soccer in the fall, and 32 young men that are expected to compete for spots on the JV and varsity rosters made that commitment to find their way onto club rosters from Radford to Roanoke.  Some of these young men are finding success along the way.

Senior Daegen Friend is a member of the Roanoke Star U19 elite team.  The Stars elite teams compete in the highly competitive Club Champions League, which encompasses the entire state of VA.

“We are extremely proud of Daegen,” said Coach Wright.   “He has sought the toughest level of competition to improve his game.  The effort and expense to make practices each week in Roanoke, plus driving all over the state for games takes a high level of commitment.”

The Stars U19 team are the champions of the Washington Invitational in Fredericksburg, which was held the weekend of August 24.   The Stars U19 team defeated the Virginia Beach Rush, Fredericksburg Premier, Fredericksburg Elite, and Botetourt Premier teams to earn the championship.

Sophomore Cole Turman is a member of the New River United Soccer Association, located in Blacksburg, U17 blue team.   NRUSA teams compete in the Skyline Club Soccer League.  Cole played travel soccer in Radford for years and he made the decision to switch to NRU this fall.

“Cole is a competitor, he has a high work rate,” said Wright.  “The switch to NRU has been good for him.  Blacksburg is a soccer power house.  Every time Cole practices he’s competing against some of the best soccer talent in our area.  Another example of a player seeking the toughest level of soccer he can find.”

The NRU U17 team are the champions of the Virginia Cup tournament, which was held in the Richmond/Williamsburg area over the Labor Day weekend.  NRU defeated the Chesapeake Fusion, Richmond Kickers Elite, and the Tidewater Sharks to claim the top spot.

The weekend of Sept. 14 the Radford Soccer Club U16 team headed to Rock Hill, SC to compete in the DSC Rock Hill Classic.  Seven Cougar Soccer players have found their way onto the roster of that team.  Juniors Keaton Alderman, Kyle Akers, and Isaiah Patterson along with sophomores J.J. Anderson, Isaac Poe, Kevin Smith and Trey Windle made the trip down south.

The level of soccer competition in the Carolina’s is very high.  After an opening round loss to the eventual champions, South Carolina United, the RSC U16 team forced a tie with the Discover Soccer Club from Rock Hill to earn a spot in the semi-finals.  In the semi-final match RSC fell to a very talented North Atlanta Soccer Association team 1-0.

“This is a team to watch,” said Wright.   “They had to shuffle their roster and make some changes in their line-up.  Some of our guys are getting a chance on this team.  They have committed themselves to working hard and getting after it.  They are at the top of the standings in the Blue Ridge Soccer League and competing at such a high level in Rock Hill will only make them better.”

In addition to those players mentioned above, several other players have been playing for either Radford Soccer Club teams or other NRU teams.

Seniors Michael Cardillo, Chandler Quesenberry, Bren Stamper, and Nick Welch have been playing for the RSC U19 team.  Senior Andrew Powers recently was able to return to soccer after undergoing back surgery.  After recently being released by his doctors he has now joined his teammates on the U19 squad.

The RSC U15 team has current Cougar players Jared David, Stefan Holston, Noah Lytton, Logan Meyer, Tyler Pauley, and Garrett Rich on the roster, along with Luke Harmon, Austin Surber, Jacob Friend, Alex Welch, Jake Winesett and Ethen Tangtong, who are all expected to tryout for the Cougars this spring.

Eighth graders Preston Eller, Hunter Quesenberry, Zach Dalton, and Dawson Perry are currently members of the RCS U14 team, and are all expected to tryout for the Cougar junior varsity squad.

Pulaski also has sophomore Mark Southern playing on the NRU U16 Blue team and sophomore Luke Hopkins playing for the NRU U15 Blue team.

The Cougars are currently scheduled to get their 2014 season underway on March 18 with an away match against the Radford Bobcats.

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