The official student news site of Athens Drive High School


The official student news site of Athens Drive High School


The official student news site of Athens Drive High School


Athens Drive men’s soccer season and playoff run

Photos by @adnmsoccer on instagram
The Men’s Jaguar varsity team out in full force on their home field. They are working to keep their playoff hopes alive against Laney High School on November 3.

Playoff season for the Jaguars has officially arrived, and the Athens Drive men’s soccer team is ready to take on the competition. The head coach for The Drive is returning head coach Jeffrey Nelson. Their current overall record stands at ten wins, eight ties, and three losses, but the team has proven that they are much more than those numbers. They have taken down the fifth seed, Cleveland High, in the first round of the playoffs with a nail-biting win of 4-3 on the evening of Halloween. Now, they look forward to facing their second-round opponent, Laney High on November 3, which is an away game for the Jaguars.  

Coming into the current season, the team had a lot to prove considering they missed the playoffs for the first time last year after a consecutive five-year playoff streak. The conference that Athens is located in has been extremely competitive, and the team has had to put in extra effort towards their success. This year, they were determined to get back to their rightful place in the postseason with team captains; Mason Dancausse, Joey Sikiric, and Jacob Collins leading the way. 

“[They] have been very good at helping to keep the intensity level high,” said Coach Nelson.

Mason Dancausse, a senior at Athens Drive, plays the position of right fullback and has the weight of motivating his fellow team members. Right fullback is usually the last line of defense against opposing strikers and obtains the important task of assisting the goalkeeper against shot attempts. Dancausse has the responsibility of being a role model for the younger Jags as he has seen the team through its highs and lows over his four-year tenure as a player. He reminds them of the big games coming up and makes sure there is healthy competition at practice so that the team consistently shows progress. 

“Depending on the situation, I may push the team to work harder or push further by reminding them [of] what we stand for as Athens Drive Men’s Soccer,” said Dancausse.

The last three games the soccer team has played have been full of grit and grind, as the final regular season games ended in a tie and even the first-round playoff game resulted in a close win for Athens. There is a huge sense of physical and mental toughness exhibited, with the Drive refusing to let the games be losses for them. Each game is a stepping stone for them, and now being in the postseason they hope to carry the fighting spirit into the game against Laney High. 

“At this point, I feel like it’s most important to keep motivating each other and driving for more playoff victories regardless of who our opponent is,” said Dancausse. 

Team practices consist of focusing on technique and fitness in the early stages and then targeted towards tactics later on. Many strong friendships and bonds are built in the weight room early on in the season, and the intensity level is simulated in a way that is identical to a real game-like environment. 

“Coach [Nelson] always tells us to bring the intensity up a level from non-conference to conference, and then playoffs. He always challenges us to be better and to be warriors on the field,” said Dancausse.

Dancausse has matured much as a player and a student at Athens. The difference between his current and freshman self is like night and day. He has become one of the team’s key pillars to success and wants to continue to motivate his teammates for the rest of his tenure. 

“Both physically and mentally I have grown stronger and my knowledge of the game of soccer as well as who I am as a teammate has matured incredibly,” said Dancausse.

The players have not let the losses this season negatively impact them, as the team has a good culture of improving what went wrong with each loss and improving their weaknesses for the upcoming game. 

“They are always ready to practice and improve the team, so bouncing back from losses has not been terribly difficult,” said Coach Nelson.

Coach Nelson has had a career of coaching soccer for 11 years, with eight being at Athens and three previously at Fuquay-Varina. He has also coached for four years at the FVAA (Fuquay-Varina Athletic Association) and WakeFC soccer programs. Along with his experience, he has several major coaching credentials with the Advanced National Diploma being included. He is also no stranger to the field, with nine years in total of playing in his younger years. 

“Since I graduated 35 years ago, soccer in North Carolina has come a long way and it’s been a lot of fun to be part of the growth,” said Coach Nelson.

The Athens Drive soccer club has experienced relative success throughout the years, and they look forward to adding another trophy to the collection. Come support the team this upcoming Thursday at Laney High at 6:00 PM sharp. 

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