|October 31, 2014||1st||2nd||Final|
|TCM||25:26||Roberto Pimentel (Matias Rubio )|
|Stats at a Glance||NBY||TCM|
|Shots (on Goal)||9 (2)||21 (13)|
NEWBERRY – There is a proposition facing the Newberry men’s soccer team as they travel to face Tusculum. Which team’s season will continue in the SAC tournament and who just might be hanging up the cleats early?
The Wolves (6-9-2, 3-5-2) head into Friday night’s game in 9th place and sitting on 11 points, both their highest totals since the 2008 season and are looking at their first SAC Tournament appearance since 2009 against a tough opponent.
“Tusculum’s a good team. Every team in this conference is a really good team. We’ve been very competitive in the league this year and that has dropped the win total of some of the conference teams. First and most importantly we have to come out and we got to push the performance forward,” said head coach Barry Slagle.
The Wolves are having their best season in over five years while also boasting one of the youngest rosters. Eight true freshman have started games for Newberry and 15 underclassman total have become the core of this team and allowed a cultural change.
“I think the biggest reason for the success is an adjustment that [the coaching staff] made and that the boys bought into. We told them on day one that we were going to run through a wall. It wasn’t going to be pretty, in fact that it was going to be ugly. It’s been a real credit to them to do something that’s difficult and something’s different and create success,” said Slagle.
That success started in their first conference matchup as they traveled to Mars Hill to play a very good Lions team. Mars Hill is currently the top team in the SAC standings with an 8-2 record and one of those two losses came at the hands of Newberry by the way of a gritty 2-1 victory.
“That win to begin the season was needed. For the boys to realize that they could get a result against good teams, because that was one of the best teams we’ve played, and they got it by working hard,” said Slagle.
Despite all the youth, there is veteran talent on the team. Junior Lucas Ferreira (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) leads the team in goals, points and assists. Senior keeper Nick Lucido (Lakeland, Fla.) is leading the SAC in saves and ranks in the top half of the league in save percentage. Redshirt Senior Stephen Harvey was a key cog in the heart of the defense this season but a second knee injury in as many years cut his season short.
A senior or freshman, the team has the opportunity for their first taste of the postseason.
“We’ve told the boys the last week that the season has already been an improvement and we’re proud of what we’ve put in. The big tentative plan of the program is realizing our potential and this is an opportunity to show if we’re a six win team or a seven win team? A seven win team this year is good enough to get to the SAC tournament. I’m ready to see if they’re ready to get that seventh win and get to the postseason,” said Slagle.
The Wolves will travel to play at Tusculum at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.