After a four-win campaign in 2013, the Knightdale boys soccer team is hoping to buck its bum luck.
A surge of incoming talent may help the Knights do just that.
Last year, Knightdale did not have enough players on its roster to field a junior varsity team. This year, a record 51 prospective players tried out for the team. Thirty-seven of them made it, and head coach Andrew Vaglio worked hard to get each one.
“I went out and got the word out,” Vaglio said. “We had a lot of sophomores, a lot of juniors come out. I was going around to the middle schools and telling them when tryouts were. We had 13 freshmen come out, and we kept 10 of them.”
A deep sophomore class will be one of Knightdale’s strengths in 2014. On last year’s under-manned roster, 10 freshmen helped complete the varsity squad. Now a year older, several of those players are expected to take the reigns.
Forward Teodulo Aguilar will be at the forefront. Vaglio called him a “standout” and pinned him as a potential leading scorer.
Defensively, Vaglio believes Kyle Ferrell and Victor Vargas are two sophomores that have what it takes to keep opposing attacks at bay. Vaglio used the word “exceptional” to describe the level of play he expects out of both Charles Pumbu and Josh Waldrop, a pair of sophomores slated to start on the wings.
“I think they’re going to be a strong aspect of our team,” Vaglio said of his sophomore class. “However, I think we have some good senior and junior leadership to help mesh the team together.”
Juniors Ryan Mays (forward) and Jeff Oddon (defense) are each entering their third varsity season. Senior defenders Nate Gage and Zach Shore also figure to play a major role this fall. “I think those four will do well for us,” Vaglio said.
The Knights will need those four upperclassmen to produce, especially early in the season. Four of Knightdale’s first six games of the year are against tough Cap-8 opponents. Five of the first six games are on the road.
As promising as Knightdale’s young talent is, Vaglio will be counting on his veteran athletes to keep the team afloat during the opening stretch.
“The trick is going to be to keep our spirits up through the first nine games,” Vaglio said.
If the Knights make it through the early-season gauntlet without being demoralized, they can begin to work on a more meaningful mission. The squad has the same goal every season: to finish among the conference’s top three teams and qualify for state playoffs.
Vaglio is quick to point out that Knightdale was only three goals away from finishing in the top three last season, even though their final record was 4-8 – better than only a winless Rolesville squad. This year, he thinks a .500 record in the league is a reasonable goal.
“I think if we have a better work ethic and better communication, then finishing in the top three in the conference and making state playoffs is not out of reach,” Vaglio said.