Roberson was a good soccer team without Austin Stamey.
The Rams became something more after the striker’s unexpected return.
Stamey netted a team-high 22 goals to go along with six assists for the Mountain Athletic Conference 4-A champions, who advanced to the 4-A Western Regional championship game for the third time in four years.
Roberson (24-3-0) was 18-2 with Stamey in its lineup and unbeaten against Western North Carolina competition. The MAC offensive player of the year missed the first six games of his junior season because of participation in a Charlotte-area soccer academy, which required traveling back and forth from Buncombe to Mecklenburg County three times a week.
Stamey and his family reconsidered the decision, allowing him to rejoin Roberson in September.
Stamey has been named the Citizen-Times All-WNC Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
“It was a really fun season,” Stamey said.
“I was kind of down at first. Not being able to play at the high school program because of travel soccer was tough. But all my teammates were really encouraging when I came back and we were able to put together a great season. Our team chemistry was really good.”
Stamey was the only WNC player and one of just 12 statewide to be selected to this month’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s All-Region III team.
Naturally, that means that Stamey is already getting plenty of interest from Division I colleges.
“Austin is a great player,” Rams coach Rob Wilcher said.
“He’s got the opportunity to play in college at quite a few places. Any time you can add a player of his caliber, it’s going to help and it did help us. It allowed us to move some people around and made our team stronger.”
Roberson lost at Myers Park, 1-0, in the 4-A Western Regional championship game. Two more wins would have made the Rams the first group in school history to win a team state title in the NCHSAA’s largest classification.
“We had lost a lot of kids to graduation,” Wilcher said.
“Our team just really improved with every game. We had several areas where we had to plug in new players. All in all, as the season progressed, the entire team improved.”
Stamey hopes to be back in the Rams’ lineup in 2013, but there are no guarantees. He hasn’t ruled out returning to the Charlotte academy.
“I hope to be back at Roberson,” Stamey said.
“The guys on this team are all really good friends that hang out on the weekend. I’d love to come back and (win a state championship) because it would be such a great achievement. I still haven’t figured it out though. Whatever happens, I know I have a lot of support from my family and friends and I’m thankful for them.”