RONDA — East Wilkes Coach Rodney Wagoner is excited about his soccer program.
Moments after his team suffered a 3-2 loss to Bishop McGuinness after a late goal by the Villains, he was clear about the progress his team is making. “Our record (0-5 at the time) doesn’t indicate how much we’ve grown in a year,” he said. “We’re proud of us. We’ve worked so hard.”
The Cardinals took the same approach with Pine Lake Prep Tuesday, taking a 1-0 lead early and fighting back after falling behind 4-1. “We’re a very, very competitive team now,” Wagoner said. “We’re running plays. We’re playing defense.”
Wagoner said he considered the Pine Lake game “another step forward. We’re not getting the win, but we are gaining valuable experience. We’re still young.”
The Cardinals started three freshmen on the backline against the Pride Tuesday. Wagoner said his freshmen are “stepping up and learning right now.”
But one thing Wagoner noted after Tuesday’s loss was the Cardinals “got to get faster.”
While there are many things Wagoner likes about his team, one special thing is the way this team looks at soccer.
“This group of kids out here,” he said motioning to his team, “love the game of the soccer. They talk about Real Madrid, Barcelona, the English Premier League, MLS (Major League Soccer). They got together to watch the World Cup.
“They are all about soccer.”
Wagoner said his next hope for his program is for more fans to come out. The crowd for the Bishop McGuinness game was small and when the Pine Lake game started there were nearly as many fans in the visitors’ stands as there were in the East Wilkes stands.
More Cardinal fans did filter in during the first half — almost doubling the pre-game numbers.
“I do wish more of the community would get behind this team and support soccer,” Wagoner said.
Tonight the Cardinals host Avery County. Game time is 6 p.m.
Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-258-4052 or Twitter @elkinareasports.