The first annual Sampson County Soccer Jamboree held this past Saturday at Clinton High was a huge success. Despite the blazing the heat, attendance was high, setting the groundwork for what may become another annually anticipated event for the county.
With 10 teams competing and a spectator turnout for each participating school, the crowd made it appear the jamboree had been running for years.
The Dark Horses, being the host school, among the local teams that were at the jamboree and head coach Brad Spell shared his thoughts on the success of the jamboree.
” I thought that it went extremely well, even though we were out there roasting,” Spell said, jokingly. “The crowd was just fantastic and most of the coaches are looking forward to coming back as well.”
“One thing I definitely want to do is give a huge shout-out to the parents for their support; they really helped us make this a success,” he added. “They were running the concession stand for us, going around filling up the coolers for us and making sure everyone had what they needed along with being part of that great crowd.”
Each team played in three 40-minute session during the jamboree and the Dark Horses played quite well across the whole day. Spell also noticed how well his team performed but noted that they still had room to grow.
“I thought we moved the ball really well. Of course we’ve still got some things to work on, but everyone got a lot of playing time and I’m proud with the way we played,” Spell said. “we’re looking forward to starting the season.”
Spell also gave thanks to his coaches and said he hopes the jamboree can keep going.
“I’m extremely happy with how thing things turned out and I’m hopeful that we can keep this thing going and grow it even bigger. I also have to give thanks to my coaches as well because they were another big part of the overall success of our first jamboree,” he concluded.
The Horses start their 2018 season play this Wednesday, Aug. 15, when they travel to take on Whiteville.
The Wildcats made an appearance in the jamboree and were one of only two 1A representatives at the event.
They went toe-to-toe with South Central, Cape Fear and Southview, going down 1-0 in the first two but getting a 3-0 win in final game. While it took them awhile to find their groove, their youth being the biggest factor, the Wildcats played well.
“We are a very young team this year, I lost 10 seniors so our inexperience and youth showed in our games,” head coach Jonathan Jacobs said. “In the first 10 minutes of our first two games, we started out slow, but then got it going. By our third game we had things figured out. We’ve still got a ways to go, but overall I was very pleased with our performance.”
Jacobs also shared his thoughts on how well the jamboree went as a whole, which was a big deal as it was his pitched idea that got the ball rolling on the event years ago.
“I came up with the idea of doing something like this about three years ago and being a graduate of Clinton High I knew they would have the facilities to run it. So, I pitched the idea to Brad (Spell) and we’ve been working on it since, until we finally got it to where it is now.”
“I thought it went really well and I hope we can get even more teams in the future and keep this an annual thing. We planned to have Lakewood in it this year, but they asked to join too late. Moving forward we hope to get them in with the other teams we hope to have, that way all the teams in the county will be present and get this experience,” he added.
Jacobs noted his plans going forward and what he hopes to see his team accomplish this year.
“I knew we were young so the first thing was getting the experience from the jamboree. Next for us is to practice really hard and gain even more experience. We’ve won our conference the past two years in a row and, though we may not be as good as we were last year, we plan to keep that going and getting to that level again,” he concluded.
The Wildcats begin their 2018 campaign this Wednesday, Aug. 15, hitting the road to battle East Columbus.
Midway, under first year head coach James O’Brien, had a solid outing at the jamboree on Saturday. The Raiders kicked the day off against Cape Fear, who bested Midway in the 40-minute match, but O’Brien said he wasn’t disappointed. Instead he said their first contest allowed him to identify the areas that needed some tweaking.
In their second session against South View, the Raiders seemed to play at a higher pace and displayed dominance against the Tigers. Midway applied plenty of pressure throughout the contest and used a resilient offense, fueled by a stingy defense, to capitalize on four goals.
In their final session against Southern Wayne, the Raiders and the Saints battled it out, leaving everything they had on the field as the game ended in a tie score.
“In the first game, we learned a lot. We definitely needed that first scrimmage,” O’Brien said, referencing the session against Cape Fear. “In the second game, hands down we played a whole lot better. It looks like we’re going to be a solid defensive team and offensively we’re starting to find out where the back of the net is at.”
O’Brien complimented the advantages of participating in the jamboree, stating that it can only help his team in playing 3A and 4A schools.
“If we want to get better and advance in the conference, and even the playoffs, we’re going to have to compete with these bigger schools. If we can’t compete with these schools then we’re not going to be competitors in our own class,” the coach continued.
And, as far as what he saw at the jamboree regarding things he liked and didn’t like, O’Brien said; “Our communication is improving, our passing is improving. Now we need to work on our center play and getting the kinks worked out there.”
Midway opened their season on Monday, hosting Lakewood. Full coverage of that game will be available in Wednesday’s edition.
Union, who will field a new soccer team after a one-year hiatus, also participated in the jamboree on Saturday. Back under the direction of head coach David Ameen, the Spartans also had a solid day during the scrimmages where Ameen said his team learned some valuable lessons that they will focus on going forward.
As of right now, barring any last minute additions to their schedule, the Spartans aren’t scheduled to participate in their first game for another month.
Ameen addressed the two-year gap in play and expressed the potential that he already sees in his team.
“I already see a great deal of improvement in where our team is now compared to where we were two years ago,” he said.
The coach also expressed enthusiasm in being able to participate in the jamboree.
“What I love about this jamboree is that it gives the players and coaches the ability to play several quick games against different opponents and figure out exactly where your strengths and weaknesses are before playing games that matter,” he asserted.
“So throughout today we’ll be able to tweak our line up and adjust our formation and really try to figure out what the best fit is for us.”
Also between games, Ameen touched on what led the Spartans to bring back their men’s soccer program after it was pulled from the 2017 fall sports lineup.
“It started with the players. After hearing the news that we weren’t going to have a team in 2017, there was a lot of disappointment. The response this year was overwhelming. We had about 40 players to try out, which is the most we’ve ever had try out and when you compare that to the 20-25 in years past, we almost had enough participation to field a JV team.”
Ameen says that the coaches and players recognize what led to the pulling of last year’s team.
“The guys are very aware that the program was taken away because players were quitting and there just wasn’t a dedication there,” Ameen noted.
“We have some new guys now, though, that are here because they have a passion for the game. I don’t know that I’ve coached a more respectful, cooperative group of guys than what I have right now. I’m very proud of them for the work they’ve put in over the past few weeks and over the summer.
Ameen also acknowledges that this season may be an uphill battle and says that he is not gauging this year’s success based on wins and losses but on effort.
“I’ve told them from the beginning I’m not going to manage our success based on wins and losses. I’m measuring our success based on did we go out there and give it everything we’ve got every single day. Even if we lose every single game, but we gave 110 percent, then we’ve won,” Ameen concluded.
Union is scheduled to take the field for their first game on Monday, Sept. 10, when they host Princeton.
Reach Michael Hardison at [email protected]