Article by Avery Yount
The best way to describe this past season for the men’s soccer program is progress. While a 2-10-1 record may not display this, this growth has been clearly shown over the course of the season and in comparison to seasons before.
Men’s soccer has had some rough years recently. While playing in one of the most competitive conferences in the state, the team has endured a revolving door of head coaches and continuous seasons finishing under a .500 win percentage. But the beginning of the season sparked some optimism and hope for this program.
Jason Clark was introduced as the new head coach for this program after the departure of Nathan Stephens, who was the head coach for the past three years for both the men’s and women’s programs. Clark, who is also an assistant coach for the powerhouse women’s soccer team at Forbush High, has plenty of experience under his belt. He played internationally for the U.S. men’s team in their Olympic Developmental North Team in addition to playing in Germany for 2 years. He also served for 23 years as a Green Beret in the Army Special Forces after his international career. After his military career, Clark coached year-round at NC Fusion for 5 years and coached indoor soccer in Winston-Salem.
This veteran coach had the daunting task of rebuilding a program that has had little success in the past. His goal: to professionalize soccer at Davie and spark more interest in the sport. This season, the program had more energy than ever before, and the players could see it.
“I was excited to hear that Coach Clark accepted the position as the new men’s soccer coach. He coached me at [NC Fusion], so I knew what he was capable of as a coach. It brought a lot of needed energy at the start of the season,” says Nathan Linville, a senior who just completed his final season under Clark.
Caleb McDaniel, a junior, also chimed in with his thoughts on the new coach. “After the first few weeks, we could see that we were improving through [Clark], even if nobody else saw it.”
And they did improve, despite what the team’s record might imply. Only 2 wins, a tie, and only 13 goals scored through 19 games. 3 of their losses were only by 1 goal, which would be scored in the final minutes of the game. But there was a major win in line for Davie. The program achieved a great feat that hasn’t happened since 2015: a conference victory. The War Eagles defeated Glenn 2-1 at home in an overtime showdown to earn their second win of the season and they’re first in the conference in 5 years.
“I was extremely excited after the win against Glenn, I think we all were. Snapping a losing streak like that is an incredible feeling especially against a conference rival,” said Linville.
Victor Calix, a sophomore, made the game-winning save to get the win over Glenn in overtime. McDaniel gave his thoughts on how the young goalkeeper did in the moment and the pressure he was feeling on the sidelines.
“It was extremely stressful. I didn’t play a second of that game, but everyone on the sidelines was asking me if I was good at blocking penalty kicks.” McDaniel is also a goalkeeper, rotating with Calix. “If Victor didn’t block that last penalty kick, chances are that I would have gone in without warming up, and having to not let the team down by letting any through. But I’m glad Victor held his ground. I’m not one to celebrate often, but the atmosphere after he saved the game was something I’ve never been a part of before.”
Linville also adds on how competitive the CPC is. “Our conference is one of the top in the state as Mount Tabor and Reynolds have been to the state championship in the past 2 years.” This past season, 5 teams from the CPC made the state playoffs.
- West Forsyth: 20-4, CPC Conference Champions, #27 in NC, #3 in Playoffs
- Mount Tabor: 18-4-1, 2nd in CPC, #31 in NC, #12 in Playoffs
- East Forsyth: 13-10, 3rd in CPC, #113 in NC, #22 in Playoffs
- R.J. Reynolds: 10-12-3, 4th in CPC, #131 in NC, #27 in Playoffs
- Reagan: 10-11-1, 6th in CPC, #155 in NC, #29 in Playoffs
Davie went 1-10 in conference play and finished last in the CPC Conference. The War Eagles have had 10 consecutive losing seasons stretching back until the 2011 season when they went 13-6-5. But they managed improvement from the year before after going 0-12 in 2020. Progress is small, but it takes time to develop a powerhouse and a professional program.
The future looks bright for the men’s soccer program. With Clark at the helm and an influx of young talent, the team now looks towards the 2022 season with higher hopes than ever before. A new sense of energy and excitement has taken over a program with potential for greatness in the coming years, and it only looks like their future is getting brighter.