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Warriors’ booters set state title as goal

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By Robert Howey

Robert Howey
rhowey@thelancasternews.com
Indian Land High boys soccer coach Adam Cole doesn’t mince words when he discusses the Warriors’ hopes for the 2012 season.
Cole and the Warriors are hoping to land the school’s first-ever state soccer championship this spring.
A year ago, Indiand Land  came close, finishing as the Class AA Upper State runner-up to Gilbert High School.
The Warriors finished 20-5 after falling to the GHS Indians.
“We strive to win every match we play, but we know from experience that only one win will satisfy us this year,” Cole said. “Our one goal is to win state.”
The Warriors, 6-3 at this point against a challenging schedule, are hoping to rebound from some early-season injuries.
“A key to this season is staying healthy,” he said.  “We have a lot of starters returning but have been hit hard with injuries early in the season. We started off the season 4-0, then injuries hit and we were at one point missing four of 11 starters. This came at the toughest stretch of our season (four big matches in a row – South Pointe, Fort Mill, South Pointe, Nation Ford).”
The Warriors have their share of experience in all-state performers Denis Killoran and Jonathan Rowe, who also reaped all-region honors last spring.
MVP Nick Retter, an all-region pick, returns along with Michael Rodriguez, Anthony Cutrone and Nick Outen, an all-region pick.
Outen earned the Offensive MVP, while Rowe was the MVP on defense. Rodriguez garnered the Warrior Award.
“We have been fortunate to have excellent goalkeepers in Trevor Hoxworth and Jake Barton,” Cole said.
Key newcomers are freshman Shea Rodgers and Jordan Szustwal, who have earned starting roles.
“Shea has started every game for us on defense and has performed at levels beyond his age – comparable to the best in the state,” Cole said.
Rodgers reaped the Junior Warriors Award last season.
The Warriors have also been bolstered by the play of Lewisville transfer Eric Sandor, a key performer in IL’s midfield play.
“We have a very talented team with a lot of skilled players,” Cole said. “Another key this year will be to stay hungry and strive to get better, regardless of who we play.  We are our own worst enemy. In the past, we have been in a bad habit of playing to the level of our competition. We need to strive to play our best every game.”
The Warriors kicked off their season, winning the Red Rose Classic for the third time in its five seasons of play. IL’s 2012 crown was its second straight in the tournament.
“We also had great play against a talented Clover team in which we tied 1-1 in a scrimmage and a great come-from-behind victory over South Pointe,” Cole said. “Another point of success was our attitude after losing to Fort Mill 2-0. We honestly felt we did not play our best, but had chances to win. The coaches, players, and fans were truly disappointed in the loss.  In years past, we would be ecstatic to only lose 2-0 to a team currently ranked 27 in an ESPN top 50 poll.  We know our talent, we know our potential, and we know that anything less than a state championship will be a disappointment. The key is to strive to improve.”
Cole is assisted by Gary Smith and Tim Thornton handles the Junior Warriors’ squad.
“Coach Thornton has done an excellent job preparing the underclassmen for the varsity level,” Cole noted. “The junior varsity team is having a lot of success this season thanks to his efforts and the effort of those players. Boys soccer is quickly growing in the area and with the success of these programs at Indian Land, hopefully, will continue to grow.”
Cole said the Warriors hope to defend their region title.
“My hopes for this season are to capture the region championship for the second year in a row (fifth region title in a row since I started (Class A and Class AA). We want to finish with a winning record against Class AAA and AAAA teams, be seeded No. 1 in the Upper State for the playoffs, win the Upper State and win our first-ever appearance in the state championship.
“We have been excited about this squad for a while. It has been with great anticipation that we finally are able to say we have a team composed of upperclassmen,” said Cole. “A lot of people are talking about our talent and potential. We have high expectations of ourselves.
“We have the talent, we have the desire, we have the leadership, now its about execution,” he said.
“We have tried to prepare for this season by boosting our level of play. This year, we compete against 5 Class AAAA teams, six Class AAA teams, three private schools, and only seven Class AA teams,” Cole said. “We hope competing against tougher competition we can improve our play, increase our confidence, prepare for playoffs and hopefully the state championship.” begins here

Contact sports editor Robert Howey at 283-1157