Broughton hadn’t hit the panic button yet.
There was no need for talk of rebuilding, even though the team had lost more games in a month than it had all of last year.
Besides, it’s only September. The season is hardly a month old for the 2014 4A runner-up and Cap-8 champion. Last year, the Capitals finished 20-2-2 overall and didn’t lose a game until October.
But this is a new season. One with different players, a tough schedule and some early growing pains. One where the Caps dropped three games in one month.
After defeating Wake Forest, 5-2, in the Cap-8 opener Monday, Broughton has its eye on the bigger picture: winning the conference.
It was Broughton’s first game in 12 days.
“We didn’t have any games last week, just due to scheduling conflicts and the holidays,” Capitals coach Nick Wheeler said. “A big question mark is how kids react and come out.
“They did very well.”
During that 12-day layoff, the Caps held a players-only meeting. Co-captains Bryant O’Neal, Grant Tyler and Elvis Wiredu orchestrated the gathering for a chance to air some things out before the Caps started league play.
Some of the topics of discussion included ways to play “as a team and moving the ball faster,” O’Neal said.
They also talked about simply playing harder, taking the season more seriously – which probably was easier said than done because the players still are teenagers. But Tyler said everyone was open and receptive.
“They listened,” he said. “I think they respect us. We made our intentions clear, that we’re going to win. They know what we want and they want to get it too.”
Frankly, the Caps want another shot at a state title. In the meantime, they’ll settle for another Cap-8 championship.
The latter quest began with a convincing win over an improved Wake Forest team Monday. Broughton got two goals from senior Sheenaymu Badweh, and one from Abdulle Ibrahim, Ibrahim Mohamud and Wiredu.
Wheeler said every night in the Cap-8 would be a dogfight, and a good conference start was just the boost the Caps needed.
“Getting that first win, especially against a good team, we’ll take it,” Wheeler said. “It’s a great start.”
Panther Creek, Cardinal Gibbons and Holly Springs handed Broughton its three losses this season. Wheeler said the players were not happy with their record.
It seemed to compromise the program’s culture of winning.
So even though the Caps had success last year, the 2015 edition mirroring those efforts wasn’t a given.
“Every team’s different,” Wheeler said. “If they lose and they are more upset than the coaches, that’s a good thing. When the kids take ownership and say, ‘This is not what I want,’ then you have a chance.”
The players’ meeting, their attitudes and their conference-opening win may give Broughton that chance.
O’Neal and Tyler were business-like after the victory over the Cougars.
“I think it’s important,” Tyler said. “We haven’t had the best record so it’s a good confidence-builder, getting five goals on a conference team.”
O’Neal said during the nonconference slate the team was trying to find its rhythm.
“Last year we only lost two games,” he said, “so it’s kind of, I wouldn’t say an eye-opener because you’re not going to win them all, but we had high expectations coming in here this year.”
Those expectations can still be met. As tough as Cap-8 soccer is, Wheeler hopes his team has gotten its growing pains out of the way.
“I’m glad we’re learning these things now, instead of later,” Wheeler said. “We’re going to learn a lot this year.”