Hartsville boys’ soccer sets big goals in 2017
By David Shelton
Hartsville – Hartsville High’s boys’ soccer team has become quite competitive in recent years. The Red Foxes won 19 matches total last season before bowing out in the second-round of the class AAA state playoffs.
Double-digit win totals are commonplace now in Hartsville but Hartsville has never advanced past the third round in state playoff competition. Head coach Troy Alexander has a team in 2017 that could make a strong run in the AAAA postseason.
“This team definitely has the potential to win a lot in the playoffs,” said Alexander, now in his ninth season as the boys coach. “Our goal every year is to be in the state championship. We have yet to achieve that goal but we work hard each year to attain it.
“This team has the talent and experience. We have high expectations. I came into this season feeling we had a competitive group. We have a chance to be the best team in school history.”
As the season moved into April, the Red Foxes had already secured a region championship. Hartsville entered the first week of April with a 10-3-1 record overall. Two of Hartsville’s losses came last weekend in a tournament at Myrtle Beach. Hartsville lost to AAAA top 10 Myrtle Beach (1-0) and AAA top 10 Oceanside Collegiate (3-2), while notching a 4-2 win over Georgetown.
“Playing in the tournament will do us a lot of good because of the competition,” Alexander said. “We need to be tested by quality opponents. We want to get a feel of the playoff intensity and that tournament helps us.”
Defense has been an early strength for Hartsville this spring. Alexander returned seasoned players in the back, led be seniors Miller Braddock and Jacob Caldwell, junior Nathan Johnson and sophomore Will Guttry.
Hartsville received a much-needed boost in goal with the transfer of sophomore Zach Farmer into the program. Alexander says the Red Foxes had no experienced keeper returning and Farmer’s addition has been a big help defensively.
“We are most seasoned in the back in terms of playing experience,” the coach said. “Getting Farmer really helped us in goal. He’s a very solid player and has a great knowledge of the game.”
Offensively, senior forward Daniel Johnson is back after leading the team with 42 goals last season. Croxton West, Daniel Thompson, Jacob Moyz and Hampton Wilfong – all underclassmen – anchor the middle.
Sophomore Caleb Caldwell works up top as another key scoring threat.
“We are still developing offensively as a unit,” Alexander said. “Johnson is starting to come around for us. He didn’t play in the fall because he played football so he started a little behind. He’s a dynamic offensive leader for us.”
Hartsville still has three region games left on the schedule but holds a two-game lead and the tie-breaker over second-place Crestwood. The Red Foxes look for a strong finish and hope to get more than one playoff game at home when the postseason begins in early May.