CLOVER — The upstart Clover High School boys soccer team survived a grinding clash with always-tough Christ Church, prevailing 1-0 on a cold night at Memorial Stadium.
Sophomore Manny Vargas booted the ball in the back of the net at the 17-minute mark of the first half, providing the margin of victory for the host Blue Eagles.
“I was able to score with the help of my teammates connecting on the field,” said Vargas after the closely-contested game. “It felt great. I had a feeling like the first goal I ever scored.”
Blue Eagle head coach Chris Dundr was all smiles after the game, lauding the players for a job well done. “This is a big win for us in the region,” Dundr said of the down-to-the-wire nail-biter.
“Christ Church is a perennial power that plays the big schools,” Dundr said of the Greenville-based school. “Their team has advanced to the state something like 18 years in a row.
In assessing this year’s team, Dundr talks about a youth movement that is beginning to find its way.
“We are a young team with seven freshmen and sophomores among the starters,” he said. “It is a learning process competing in a region that has four top-15 teams—Northwestern, Fort Mill, Nation Ford and South Pointe.”
Dundr feels good about the team’s commitment to boys soccer at CHS.
“The kids have potential,” said Dundr. “Competing against strong teams in the region will make them better.”
The CHS coach talked about the transition younger players competing at the varsity level for the first time have to make. “The first-time varsity players competed against kids their own age before moving up,” he noted. “Now they are playing against kids ages 17 and 18.”
Dundr noted that high school soccer is a growing sport.
“Youth participation in the Clover-Lake Wylie area is awesome with as many as 1,000 participants at various age levels,” he said. “The new soccer facility in Clover is impressive.
“With local rec and club soccer available to so many kids, soccer interest continues to grow. The kids develop a love for the game.”
The Blue Eagle soccer team travels to rival York Thursday, with the staring time set for 7 p.m. Next will be participation in the Carolina Cup April 3-6.