Published On: Wed, Aug 20th, 2014

Warrior soccer focused on endurance

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The 2014 Pocahontas County High School Warriors soccer team. Front row, left to right: Connor Pyles, Matthew Pritt, Trey Walton, Logan Burks, Kendel Ober and Kevin Bennett. Back row, left to right: Chad Friel, Austin Hubbert, Brandon Cassell, Phillip Green, Patrick Collins, Shane Alderman and Conlin Halterman. The Warriors open their season on August 26 at 7 p.m. at Warrior Field against Philip Barbour.

The 2014 Pocahontas County High School Warriors soccer team. Front row, left to right: Connor Pyles, Matthew Pritt, Trey Walton, Logan Burks, Kendel Ober and Kevin Bennett. Back row, left to right: Chad Friel, Austin Hubbert, Brandon Cassell, Phillip Green, Patrick Collins, Shane Alderman and Conlin Halterman. The Warriors open their season on August 26 at 7 p.m. at Warrior Field against Philip Barbour.

Physical conditioning is an important component of success in any sport, but fitness is absolutely vital for the Warriors soccer squad this season. Head coach Cully McCurdy explained why the team is emphasizing smart training and excellent physical fitness this season.

“Our numbers are down this year,” he said. “We’ve only got 14 players, so we’re going to have to be in shape.”

The team had an outstanding season last year, finishing 13-4-1 overall. In a very tough road contest, the Warriors lost the regional championship game to Pikeview, who went on to win the state title. The Warriors were number two in the state – in all classes – in average goals scored.

McCurdy has a long-term outlook for success this season.

“It’s going to be a tale of two seasons,” he said. “We’re going to have to gain some experience with our young people and the other key is to stay healthy because, as the season wears on, with only three substitutes, we’re going to have to make sure that we condition properly, that we stretch properly and that we do everything we can for injury prevention.

“I expect we’ll have some lumps early on in the season. We’ll be competitive, but we have the potential to give up some easy goals, just because of the lack of experience. But, by the time we get into sectionals and regionals, I think we have the potential to have a pretty special tournament season.”

The team has excellent experience at midfield and solid leadership from junior Chad Friel and senior Phillip Green .

“We have our whole midfield returning, except for one,” said McCurdy. “In all honesty, I’ll put our four midfielders up against any midfield in West Virginia. They’re just a really talented group.”

The coach praised his players’ professionalism.

“These guys are students of the game,” he said. “They absolutely love the game of soccer. They work to make themselves better. They work on their footwork and they know that every touch they get on the soccer ball, the better they’re going to be. I can’t ask for a better group of young men to work with. They do everything that I ask of them. They’re very respectful and respectful to each other. I’m just very pleased with the group that I have.”

Senior center defender Brandon Cassell is a key team leader.

“We’ve got a strong team again this year,” he said. “We’ve had good teams ever since I’ve started playing up here. We’ve got a lot of potential and young players who are doing really good. Defense is pretty good and we’ve got strong attackers, too. Connor Pyles and Austin Hubbert – they’re our two main strikers. Both of them have strong feet and they’re good on the ball and fast.”

“We’ve got a good team,” said Green. “We have a lot of great scorers. We have some good candidates for goalkeeper. We definitely have the potential. If we put forth the effort, we can make it to Beckley.”

The Warriors open their season at home against Philip Barbour on August 26 at 7 p.m.

About the Author

- Geoff Hamill can be contacted at gshamill@pocahontastimes.com