By Samantha Greben
The sun begins to set as the clock strikes 4:30. The referees blow their whistles. The teams huddle for a quick pep talk and break into formation onto the field. The intensity spreads from the field to the bleachers, where a large crowd has rallied to support South. This is it. This game determines whether the boys’ varsity soccer team will make it into the playoffs for 2015.
The boys’ varsity soccer team defeated Mepham with a final score of 4-1, securing their spot in the playoffs. The sense of pride on the field at the end of the game was truly remarkable, especially because this is the third consecutive year that this team has made it to the playoffs. “Coaching a team that makes the playoffs is very rewarding as you get to see all the hard work that the team has put in throughout the season pay dividends,” said the boys’ varsity soccer coach, Christopher McCann.
For the past two years, the team has been led by senior captains Ryan Lang and David Kimmel. Both Lang and Kimmel feel that a captain should be responsible and make sure every player is working as hard as he can to play to the best of his abilities. “I’ve had the pleasure of being led by some of the greatest and most inspiring athletes to come through South. Without them, I wouldn’t be the leader I am today,” said Lang.
Though many talented players graduated last year, the team made up for it with great hustle and passion. “Hard work has never been something that the boys’ soccer team lacked,” said Coach McCann. One particular moment that defined their hard work was when they tied an undefeated Hicksville team on the Friday during Hurricane Joaquin. The boys faced not only the No. 2 ranked team in the state but also extreme conditions of rain and wind. “The heart that was shown by everyone involved could not be measured, and it was a definite turning point in the season,” Coach McCann said.
The success of this team has not come easily. This has been a season full of injuries and setbacks, but when one person went down, the next person in line stepped up to fill his shoes. Kimmel feels that the boys did not have a great start to the season, but giving up never crossed their mind. After hitting a rough patch in the beginning and dropping four straight games, the team continued fighting and now has a chance to let their hard work and determination pay off in the playoffs. Kimmel added that they might not be the best team on the field, but they definitely work harder and hustle more than any other team out there. “I’ve been playing for the varsity team for four years, and this is easily the toughest group of kids to come through South,” agreed Lang.
In spite of the fact that the boys were defeated by Hicksville, ending their playoff run, Coach McCann feels that this year’s success is due to the team effort. The team as a whole is decisive, structurally sound, and physical against bigger opponents. He also attributes the team’s success to the large group of seniors who he feels are fantastic leaders both on and off the field. “My senior captains have been everything I could have asked for, and more. How they present themselves in all facets of the game and in the hallways sets the tone for the team, and I owe them great thanks and praise,” said Coach McCann. He feels that the way this team has been steadily climbing towards the end of the season cannot be discounted. “We have a great mindset, and we have finally figured out what we need to do to be successful in the long run. This year’s team is an exceptional demonstration of the saying ‘a season is a marathon, not a sprint.’”