By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Members of Western Alamance’s soccer team can look back on many positive moments this season, but the Warriors also know the excitement that can be generated with what’s ahead.
Western wrapped up regular-season play with Tuesday night’s 9-0 victory against visiting Roxboro Person.
It came a night after a disappointing result that could leave them short of a Central Carolina 3-A Conference championship.
Still, there’s widespread optimism for the Warriors, who are the reigning Class 3-A state champions. The state playoffs begin Monday night.
“Really having high hopes of winning another ring,” senior defender Keith Johnson said. “Upsets can happen.”
Western stumbled at the beginning of the week with a 4-3 double-overtime loss at home to fourth-place Northwood. That knocked it out of a share of first place with Williams, which with a win or tie against third-place Orange on Wednesday night at home would claim the league title.
The Warriors (14-4-2, 10-2 Central Carolina 3-A Conference), though, hold visions of what could be ahead.
“We’re excited for it,” sophomore midfielder Blake Bacchus said. “It’s hard to match last year, but we’re going to try.”
Coach Camden Brooks said several of the Warriors are nursing injuries, though he hopes by next week their statuses will be improved.
Only four starters – Johnson, Jacob Carignan, Jorge Salas and Gael Villegas (injured) – returned from last year’s team.
Johnson said shortcomings from early in the season – and earlier in the week – have been erased.
“We came back strong,” Johnson said. “I’m super-confident in our team. Last year we were 21st seed.”
But they weren’t carrying the label of defending state champion to the postseason.
“I’m sure people have us on their radar this year,” Brooks said.
Against winless Person, Carignan scored two goals and had an assist, and Luis Guerrero added two goals, while Bacchus, Marcos Burns, Zachary Allred, Sean Botzman and Johnson scored. Noah Barrett provided two assists, while Botzman, Allred, Boston Cornell, Quade Johnson and Caleb Shutt had assists.
The game ended via the mercy rule on Keith Johnson’s first goal of the season with 3:26 on the clock.
In the Northwood game, Carignan and Bacchus scored in regulation. Cornell notched a tying goal in overtime, but the Chargers posted the winning goal with 11 seconds left.
When the brackets are released at the end of the week for the state playoffs, Western will plot a route back to another title. At least something will be different, though.
“We’re also not the underdogs this year,” Bacchus said.