Soccer team returns to state playoff action

Team earns first postseason berth since 2013

Sophomore Chris Guccio takes the ball towards the net

Ryan Wimmer, Staff Reporter

The boys’ varsity soccer team gained much respect from the school as well as the competition this past season. The boys finished the year with 11 wins and qualified for the state playoffs for the first time since 2013.

“I was very excited at the beginning of the summer because I knew our potential, and now that we’ve actually surpassed everyone’s expectations, it’s a really good feeling,” said junior Ross Genetti, who finished the season with ten goals.

With head coach Michael Atkinson leaving after last season, many thought that 2017 would be an adjustment year. That was not the mindset of Rick Pittarelli, who was promoted to Varsity coach after two years of coaching JV.

“My expectations were having players willing to work hard, to be a part of a team that’s focused and hungry, and to rid ourselves of the negativity that seemed to consume us every season,” Pittarelli said. “I expected us to play hard and not be satisfied with just getting by.”

The team started the season slowly, with three of the first four matches ending in ties. As the year progressed, the team started rolling. Twice this season the team had win streaks of three games or longer.

“It felt good to have been rewarded for our hard work during those games,” sophomore Patrick Page said.

Many teams tend to hit a stump somewhere along the road. This year, the Cougars found a struggle in facing Knightdale for the second time of the season, taking a 5-2 loss. However, what happened the day after that game was Pittarelli’s favorite memory of the season.

“At the end of practice (after the Knightdale game), I planned on asking each player where they stood,” Pittarelli said. “When I turned around, they were all locked, arm in arm, to show they were not going to give up.”

The team finished the regular season with an 11-8-3 record and earned third place in the NAC-VI. After such a strong season, the team qualified for the NCHSAA State Playoffs, which had been the team’s goal since June workouts.

The team faced Broughton in the first round of the playoffs but lost 3-0.

“Our effort wasn’t there with everyone in playoffs,” Page said. “It was definitely a mental setback, not a physical one.”

Despite this early exit from the playoffs this season, the Cougars are already looking ahead to next year.

“In my office, I have a saying written on my board: ‘Dreams without goals are just dreams’,” Pittarelli said. “As I’ve said all season, we stay the course, we fight, we push ourselves harder than anyone else and we focus on the goal we’ve set.”