Statesmen continuously improve on pitch

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Randolph-Henry High School’s varsity boys soccer team avoided complacency during the 2017 season, favoring consistent progress on its way to finishing with a 10-7-1 record.

The Statesmen advanced as far as the Quad Rivers Conference 34 tournament semifinals in the postseason.

“I think they’ve done really, really well,” Randolph-Henry Head Coach Patrick Shay said of his players. “They’ve learned tremendously. We’ve had some beginners that came out there and performed really well. They continuously improved throughout the season. A lot of times teams will kind of peak out, but I think these guys, they kept adding something every week to their arsenal.”

A highlight of the season came in the conference tournament quarterfinals. The fifth-seeded Statesmen defeated host No. 4 Brunswick High School 8-7 in a sudden death round of penalty kicks after four scoreless overtime periods and two rounds of penalty kicks that still left the game tied.

“That was an epic game,” Shay said. “It was the longest game I’ve ever had to be in and manage,” lasting almost two-and-a-half hours.

The score was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation and remained unchanged after two five-minute overtime sessions and two five-minute sudden death overtime sessions.

After the first round of penalty kicks, the scoreboard read 5-5, and after the second round, it read 7-7.

Randolph-Henry’s 11th penalty kick — and its first in the sudden death round — proved to be the winner, kicked in by junior midfielder Hurley Noblin.

The Statesmen were represented on the All-Conference 34 first team by a trio of seniors — midfielder Shayne Maloney, goalkeeper John Walker and defender Michael Nichols.

Statesmen making the second team included senior forward Caleb Chadwick, senior forward Christopher Nichols and junior defender Brycen Parnell.

Shay said it was Maloney’s remarkable statistics that caught the eye of conference coaches, whose votes determined who became all-conference honorees. Maloney scored 23 goals for the season, which was a school record, and he also handed out 14 assists.

“The numbers right there say a lot,” Shay said. “But he’s able to see the game, see how it’s going to unfold and is able to create plays based upon what he’s seeing. And a lot of the other coaches also see that he is a major threat, particularly in the midfield in the center, because he can receive the ball, either take the ball up himself or he can pass it off to someone else to make those opportunities.”

Michael Nichols was a defender, but Shay noted that he still made two goals, showing he was able to take the ball up. But what made Nichols particularly special was his remarkably long throw-ins.

“Because his throw-ins are so long and so phenomenal, he was able to get 10 assists on throw-ins alone,” Shay said.

Maloney, Nichols and Walker were all team captains this year.