Athens Drive men’s soccer team looking to follow up with recent success

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Athens Drive men’s soccer team looking to follow up with recent success

Junior Josh Burkhart receives pass.

Junior Josh Burkhart receives pass.

Junior Josh Burkhart receives pass.

Junior Josh Burkhart receives pass.

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The Athens Drive men’s soccer team is coming off a season in which they lost in the quarter-final of the state tournament to the eventual champions, Green Hope. This year, however, they are restarting and rebuilding. Under the leadership of the coach, Jeff Nelson, they are looking to enter the playoffs for the third straight year.
After losing nine of their eleven starters this year, they are starting off with a fresh slate, as most of their players are new to varsity. Nelson will have to find out who will be starting in each position and then the players will have to learn how to play with each other.
They have also lost three of their starting seniors due to injury this season, making an already difficult season even harder. However, with those seniors sidelined, the coaching staff gets the opportunity to coach the new players, and guide them to be better players.
The team’s goal this year is to finish top three in the Triangle 8 conference, and to make a good showing in the playoffs. It is based on conference and record on how makes the playoffs, and so far the team has not played in any conference games.
In out of conference play, the team has a pair of wins against Millbrook and Fuquay-Varina, winning both with a score of 2-1. In addition to those wins they have also had two ties with White Oak and Holly Springs.
“It’s a talented bunch,” said Nelson, “but how everybody fits together as a team is crucial,”
One of the goals Nelson stated was to have a better defense, and with both of their losses, to Heritage and Cardinal Gibbons, by 4 goals or more, defense will be an important part of practice. The team practices every weekday, and sometimes practices on Saturdays.
“Communication is real important part of defense and I feel like so far this season we haven’t done that well enough,” said Josh Burkhart, junior defender.
However, for the members of the team, winning isn’t the only reason they play.
“One of my favorite reasons for playing is all the friends I’ve made,” said Burkhart. Being friendly with your teammates is helpful team chemistry.
“We’ve turned into a real close knit group of guys this season,” said Sean Herbst, junior midfielder “I really enjoy hanging out with them.”

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