By WHH Staff
Since they were 5 years old, three boys have been playing soccer together and now they’re playing for the Raiders.
Juniors Cole Thompson, Andrew Sexton and Andrew Eigenfeld had been separated from each other since grade 9, when they were all at Staunton River together. Thompson arrived at North Cross last year. Andrew Sexton switched to Salem High last year. Eigenfeld remained at Staunton River by himself last year and was the only boy who continued to play team-soccer.
Thompson said that he did not want to play last year, because he didn’t have any friends. So he recruited his old teammates.
“Andrew E. has played the most of the group early,” coach James Brown said in an email interview. “He attended the team camp with us back in July, so he was able to get a jump start on learning the system. With Andrew’s great size and speed we have been able to use him in a number of different positions. He has done well and as he continues to learn. He will only get better and better.”
Eigenfeld, a former striker, who said he now gets placed at right-midfield in the new system, has scored three times and assisted on five goals for a total of 11 points in 19 games.
“Andrew S. and Cole also give us more experience and depth,” Coach Brown said. “This is important as we manage our way through a difficult regular season. Having fresh bodies to continually throw at teams is always a plus. With only one senior, our junior class has to really step up and lead. They have been able to help in this leadership thus far. When the three of them are on the field together, it is evident that they have played with one another for a while.”
Both Sexton and Thompson have scored one goal each.
The boys also face transitions academically.
Now, Sexton takes two AP classes —AP Physics and AP English after taking AP U.S. History last year at Salem. He expressed disdain for Salem’s grading system, which only assigns an A to 94% or above.
“Salem was a lot harder because of their grading scale,” Sexton said. “So like 94.5% is an A . . . 79 is a D and here it’s one point from a B”.
Eigenfeld is also taking AP English.
Despite their promising abilities, none hopes to play soccer in college.
“I used to,” Sexton said during the interview, “but not much anymore.”
Meanwhile, the team is doing well. So far, the defending state champions have a record of 13-4-1 after tying Carlisle in a storm-shortened game.
The veteran members of the team say they work to build team chemistry with the new players.
“We need to move the ball quicker,” said Spencer Brown ‘21, who will return to play center-midfield after suffering a stress fracture in his foot. He said the team needs to stop dribbling into trouble and pass the ball more often.
Brown, who scored the winning goal in the state championship, has 12 points to his credit this year.
Rees Wenk ‘22, who shares right-midfield responsibilities with Eigenfeld, noted the fact that the tie with Carlisle felt unjust, but it happens with rivalries.
“Especially Carlisle,” Wenk said. “[The rivalry] feels kinda salty.”
The team will not have to play any rivalry matches for a while. During Homecoming week, they only played Southwest Virginia Home School, who they defeated 4-1 on a hat trick by Geist Pollock. Then, they played a succession of tough Division I teams - a schedule designed to prepare the squad for the rigors of post-season play. The team knows it will not be easy to repeat.
“Feels like there is a target on our back,” Brown said “Every team tries harder when they play us.”