New boys soccer coaches define this year’s Southwest Wake Athletic Conference season. All but Apex, Fuquay-Varina and Cary are welcoming new coaches this year.
Former RailHawks fan favorite Caleb Norkus takes over as head coach for last year’s SWAC champ Green Hope (15-5-3, 9-2-3). The Falcons endured a midseason coaching change but was unbeaten in 15 straight games before bowing out of the playoffs’ third round.
Green Hope graduated 15 seniors but will return all-conference junior defender Griffin Brookshire.
Second-place Apex (15-6-2, 9-4-1) will be led by seniors Will Tomlinson, a forward, Corey Vodicka, a goalkeeper and midfielders Matt Grieco and Patrick Bailey.
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Joey Will takes over at Holly Springs (12-7-3, 6-6-2) after being an assistant. Seniors like defender Eddie Zuniga, goalkeeper Josh Howard, midfielder Nico Gutierrez (8 goals, 2 assists), defender Josh Noordeloos and midfielder Jonah Mulligan (11 goals, 2 assists) are back.
Fuquay-Varina (11-10-1, 7-7) which tied for third in the SWAC with Holly Springs, has a strong senior class led by Brayam Meija, Cole Slater and Kevin Gorman.
The only SWAC team to make it to the fourth round, Middle Creek (13-9-5, 6-7-1), welcomes new coach Guy Coleman. Junior forward Chris Wallace (11 goals, 11 assists), senior midfielder Tyler Conrad (9 goals, 3 assists) and senior midfielder Colin Frie lead the way.
Panther Creek (9-10, 6-8) , now coached by Chad Sichak, landed senior midfielder Pridvhi Gadiraju and senior defender Daniel Kaspar on last year’s all-conference team. They join junior Archie Filliter and seniors Michael Montalvo and Ryan Yost.
Cary (5-11-4, 4-7-3) has junior midfielder Quinn Dunphy, who can also play striker or defender, and senior Noah Bagherpour. The Imps had 35 goals last year split among 16 players. All 18 field players had at least one goal or one assist.
Quinn Garrett and Ben Williams are among the returning players for Athens Drive (8-12-1, 4-10), which is now coached by Jeff Nelson.
Derek Blackwelder, who was previously an assistant at Millbrook, will lead first-year Apex Friendship.
Last 10 SWAC champions
2014: Green Hope
2013: Green Hope
2012: Green Hope
2011: Green Hope
2009: Green Hope
2008: Panther Creek
State championships among all SWAC teams
Apex (2005), Athens Drive (1987, 1993, 2003), Cary (1998), Green Hope (2011, 2012)