Indians produce standout season on the pitch

Published 1:47 pm Friday, June 9, 2023

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The Southampton High School varsity soccer team’s 2023 season came to a close Friday, May 26, in the Region 3A Tournament quarterfinals, but what set the tone for the Indians this year was their play across all 17 games and their district tournament win.

“Honestly, this was one of the top-three seasons we’ve had since I’ve been there for 26 years now,” Southampton Head Coach Scott Edwards said during a Saturday, May 27, interview.

A coach in the soccer program for 26 years, Edwards just completed his 23rd year as varsity head coach.

The Indians, who finished the year with an overall record of 11-6, scored 73 goals this season, “which is at the highest that we’ve ever had,” Edwards said, adding that his team gave up only 20 goals against district opponents.

Southampton entered the Region 3A tourney with the No. 2 seed after winning the Tri-Rivers District Tournament.

The Indians did not win the district regular season championship, but they advanced to the district tournament title game after defeating visiting Appomattox Regional Governor’s School 6-3 in the semifinals.

In the May 17 tourney final, Southampton took on visiting Franklin High School.

“It was great to finally have a district tournament again,” Edwards said. “We haven’t had one since prior to COVID, and it was great. The kids enjoyed it. Obviously, playing against Franklin … they’re our rival. No matter how good or bad we are or they are, it’s always a good game.”

The Broncos took a 1-0 lead, but the Indians orchestrated a championship comeback as sophomore forward Laurence Wallace tied the game, and senior defender Amon Gary scored the game winner on a penalty kick. Junior forward Jaylin Carter earned the assist on Wallace’s goal.

Having the No. 2 seed in the regional tourney gave Southampton a first-round bye. The Indians began play in the quarterfinals, hosting No. 7 Petersburg High School, a battle-tested squad from the Central District, which includes two other Virginia High School League Class 3 teams, two Class 4 teams, two Class 5 teams and a Class 6 squad.

“We actually were up 2-0 to start off (against Petersburg),” Edwards said. “We scored the first two, and then they came back with three. They scored three pretty quickly, I believe, and then we got one back right at the end of the half on a penalty kick.”

He noted that Wallace scored Southampton’s first goal on a breakaway. Sophomore midfielder Brendan Sickelton scored on a long kick from midfield that went over the goalkeeper. Then Wallace scored on a penalty kick right before halftime.

“It was 3-3, and then (Petersburg) came out the second half, and they were really, really pushing it down the field, and I don’t know, we just didn’t have it yesterday I guess, probably the best thing to say,” Edwards said.

The Indians were playing without Gary, who had become injured earlier in the day during the school’s senior picnic. The coach noted that Gary is an outstanding defender who is also good at organizing Southampton’s defensive efforts on the field.

“I feel like we were a little out of sorts just because we were minus our best center defender, and I think that kind of showed,” Edwards said.

Petersburg scored an early second-half goal and ultimately pulled away for a 6-3 victory.

Gary was among the nine Southampton players to receive all-district honors.

The collection of accolades was led by Wallace, who was named Tri-Rivers District Player of the Year for the second year in a row. Edwards was also named district Coach of the Year for the second consecutive time.

“It was very nice,” Edwards said. “I was not actually looking to be Coach of the Year. I was nominated by the other coaches and pretty much a unanimous choice. But Laurence was the same thing.”

The coach said Wallace scored 35 goals this year, giving him 56 across the last two seasons.

Joining Wallace on the all-district first team were Carter, Gary, junior midfielder Randal Branch, junior goalkeeper Aaron Braid and sophomore defender Jayden Jenkins, who received an at-large selection.

Southampton players making the all-district second team included Sickelton, junior midfielder Eli Jennings and sophomore defender Jonathan Mise.

Opposing district coaches showed their significant respect for Southampton with their all-district votes.

“Even though we didn’t win the district (regular season title), we actually had more first- and second-team (players) than anyone else in the district,” Edwards said.