J.L. Mann soccer finished the season with a 19-2 record and was ranked as high as No. 2 in Class AAAA during the season.
“Our seniors led in a reserved manner,” J.L. Mann coach Talon Stroud said. “It was a small group, but they garnered respect from all of their teammates. They led by example.”
The Patriots, the defending state champions, defeated Gaffney 4-0 in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs and then edged Fort Mill 2-1 in dramatic fashion.
Sophomore Conor Mattern threw the ball across the field and connected with James Campbell just in front of the net. Campbell, who has committed to play at Marshall University, leaped above defenders and headed the ball in for the win.
“The kids gave James the nickname ‘Mr. Intensity,’ and that is not an accident,” Stroud said. “He has been the driving force of our team this season. He is going to have a great future.”
Nicky Watson scored the first goal of the match and his 34th of the season. Watson, who will play next year at Niagara University, broke the Patriots’ season scoring record of 29 goals.
“Nicky has been a force for four years,” said Stroud. “He was a dependable scorer for us.”
Senior Christian Calloway is committed to the College of Charleston.
“Christian is a quiet guy, but he was one of our team captains,” Stroud said.
Anthony DeLucia, David Boylan and Mac Ward graduate from the program this season.
Keaton Hinze will return for his senior season. Hinze scored the Patriots’ goals in their 3-2 loss to Nation Ford in the third round of the playoffs. The junior was Mann’s second-leading scorer with 17 goals. Hinze has committed to James Madison.
“Keaton is a big man,” Stroud said. “He battles for every ball. He has great size and will be phenomenal this year.”
Junior Tyler Ryder has committed to Clemson University. Alex Waldthausen finished third on the team in goals scored and second in assists. Stroud said that Waldthausen is the hardest worker on his team and leads by example.