Bishop England and Wando played in the Raising Cane's Carolina Classic final last season.
Soccer is a team sport. When each player operates within a well-orchestrated system, a team succeeds. If roles aren't defined and players operate out of order, that team's season is often cut short come playoff time.
That's why Wando boys soccer coach Shilo Tisdale isn't concerned with the new implentation of rules barring high school soccer athletes from playing for their school and an academy team. Four seniors who have signed Division I scholarships will not finish their high school careers because of the rule, but two collegiate signees return – Eric Clark (College of Charleston) and Andrew Davis (South Carolina).
“There's no superstar. There's 12 or 13 solid players who I could name,” Tisdale said when asked to identify a few notable players on the roster.
Wando's soccer program is enjoying a stretch of success as 2011 state champions and 2012 state runners up. Tisdale doesn't see the Warriors falling off that peak anytime soon. “Expectations are high,” he said. “I think we learned a lot from that loss in the state final last year.”
Classes are balanced with nine seniors, eight juniors, seven sophomores and two freshmen. Wando defeated Hilton Head in its first preseason scrimmage, 3-1, Feb. 8. The Warriors followed that up with a 2-1 win over Clover a week later. Results from Wando's final scrimmage against Northwestern were not available at press time.
A particularly entertaining game this season that Tisdale noted was a contest against Academic Magnet, May 2, on senior night. The Raptors are ranked No. 1 in the state's 2A classification.
“There's no complacency with this team,” he said. “These guys are committed.”
It's not where you start, but where you finish that matters.
The Bishop England boys soccer team has battled rival Academic Magnet for local bragging rights, state rankings and championships for years. This season is no different.
Academic Magnet is the preseason No. 1 in 2A. The Battling Bishops are No. 2.
“The top two programs right now in 2A - for the whole state, really - is Bishop England and Academic Magnet,” coach Ed Khouri said. “They've done a good job over there.”
The Bishops opened their preseason with a 2-0 loss to Hilton Head, this past Saturday. They play at Ashley Ridge, Feb. 27, in their final scrimmage before beginning the regular season.
Khouri used the phrase “rebuilding” to describe his team, but that needs clarification. Often, rebuilding is a friendly term for suffering losing seasons while younger players adjust to an increased athletic level.
Bishop England might be better categorized as reloading. There are six seniors, and five of them are starters. “Everything is on their shoulders to, more or less, control the younger ones, mentally,” Khouri said. “We have a lot of underclassmen right now, which is a good omen.”
Drew Costa, Ross Rogers, Mateo Gomez, Zachary Hooper and Zachary Khoury will be especially relied on this year. Costa, who also played kicker and punter for the football team, dictates the middle as a center midfielder. Roders is a 4-year varsity player and resumes goalkeeper duties.
Khouri described the Bishops' formations are flexible, as they can employ three or four midfielders, based on opposing lineups and situational plays.
“We have a system of play, so what I have to do is see if I can blend the younger ones to certain positions to get a good overall result as a group,” he said. “That's one of our recipes over the years, because you just keep reloading.”