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Eagles Off to 5-0 Start!

Posted Wednesday, September 01, 2010 by Kevin Travis, New Bern Sun Journal

Eagles off to 5-0 start in soccer

Sun Journal File Photo
West Craven's Antonio Lewis dribbles the ball during action last year. The Eagles are off to a 5-0 start and are ranked 13th in the NCSCA 3-A poll. West Craven plays host to East Carteret tonight.

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Ranked 13th in NCSCA poll

Sun Journal

VANCEBORO – Jaime Cortes has been lighting up the back of the net, while Sam Mitchell has sytmied the opposition. That strong combination has helped the West Craven Eagles soar to a 5-0 start to the high school soccer season.

Others have taken notice as the Eagles, fresh off a 9-1 win over South Lenoir on Monday night, are ranked 13th in the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association (NCSCA) 3-A rankings.

“It feels really good,” West Craven coach Aaron Steele said of the team’s start. “I try to keep our expectations realistic and keep (the players) zoned in on one game at a time. That’s always been the rule.

“We’re not a group that’s used to winning, so when you deal with a group like this, you have to keep them very down to earth. You don’t want them to play with a chip on their shoulders. We practice the same, which is to practice like champions.”

The Eagles, who have outscored the opposition 33-1, are ranked for the first time in school history.

“It’s nice to see that people are talking about us,” Steele said. “That’s the best part, but we try not to let it get to the guys’ head. A ranking doesn’t mean anything until the end of the season. That’s the only ranking you should worry about.”

Steele is happy to see his team performing well in what he describes as the first of three seasons.

“We talk about getting through the three seasons,” Steele said. “We focus on the non-conference to work out all the kinks, then to get through the most important part, which is the conference, and then into the third season, which is the playoffs.”

Cortes has certainly started strong. He’s scored 17 goals in the five games, including four in Monday’s win over South Lenoir.

“Jaime is a competitor,” Steele said. “He’s off to an electric start. He’s been a great team player.”

There’s been other Eagles who have stepped up offensively as well. Lamberto Gomez has 19 assists, including five assists to go with a goal in Monday’s win. Gomez has six goals this season.

Also scoring Monday night for West Craven were Joe Valdez (seven goals this season), Sue Rocham (five goals this season), Ryan Hardison (four goals this season) and Mike Cauley.

Antonio Lewis, Bonquay Bryant and Jose Agirre added assists in the win.

Sam Mitchell, West Craven’s goalkeeper, has had more than enough offensive support. Mitchell, who notched one save on Monday night, has 74 saves in 490 minutes of action. He owns a 98.7 save percentage.

“He wasn’t too happy allowing a (penalty kick),” Steele said with a laugh. “You thought we had lost a game. That defense really cares about that shutout.

“(Sam) has a very good defense in front of him that communicates very well. They play fundamentally sound and I couldn’t be more proud. Sam, especially, does a great job being vocal and being a leader.”

The Eagles are at home for the first time tonight. They play host to East Carteret at 6 p.m.

“I talked to my students and I told them that we’re a school and we should be united,” Steele said. “The soccer team loves playing in front of them. It would be nice to see (the stands) almost packed like a football game. It would mean a lot to the players.

“It would be great for people in the Vanceboro community to start talking about, ‘wow, I didn’t even know soccer existed at West Craven High School.’ It’s been a nice start.”


Kevin Travis can be reached at 252-635-5669 or at ktravis@freedomenc.com


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