With optimism for season, South Lenoir picks up first soccer win of 2018

With optimism for season, South Lenoir picks up first soccer win of 2018

South Lenoir soccer coach David Whaley talks to his players during halftime of the Blue Devils' 3-0 victory over Neuse Charter. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News

DEEP RUN -- For South Lenoir soccer, it’s all about the process.

The Blue Devils completed another phase, defeating Smithfield Neuse Charter 3-0 Friday to pick up their first win of the season. South Lenoir (1-1) is looking toward its first playoff appearance since 2015, coinciding with the team’s last Eastern Carolina 2A title.

Blue Devils coach David Whaley said getting the first win of the season is always good, but wants to focus on players stepping up to the challenge.

“I’m very happy for the seniors (as we got this win),” Whaley said. “We’re still building — we lost a ton of players last year (to graduation).”

South Lenoir went 6-12-1 last season, starting 0-4 and finishing winless in its final three games. Whaley said the team had flashes in the middle and -- despite losing six seniors -- can improve upon 2017.

“We’re really trying to build up a program and although we’re replacing a lot of seniors there are some guys who can come in and do a great job for us,” Whaley said.

One of those players is senior Brandon Rodriguez, who had a goal and assist in Friday’s match with Neuse Charter. Rodriguez said the team is taking the necessary steps to become better.

“We practice hard every  day, we communicate with each other and play together as a team,” Rodriguez said.

The Blue Devils host North Duplin Wednesday, a team South Lenoir fell to 3-2 in the season-opener Aug. 22.

“We don’t want (Neuse Charter) to be our only win of the season,” Rodriguez said. “We hung tough with North Duplin until the final five minutes and we want to get them back.”

Jesus Lopez and Erick Miranda also scored goals for South Lenoir with Angel Lopez contributing two assists.

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