Positives on the pitch

Published 12:22 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2017

By Titus Mohler

The K-V Dispatch

The 2017 season was a period of measurable growth for Central High School’s varsity coed soccer team.

The squad’s 3-13-1 record may seem to tell a different story, but Chargers Head Coach Janet Johnson provided a closer examination to reveal why she came away feeling quite good about her team and the year.

“We had a very positive season because we had wins, we had a tie, we had one game that was a shutout,” she said. “We scored on a corner kick,” something the team has tried to do and perfect, and it came together.

The Chargers’ season ended in the first round of the Conference 42 tournament with a 5-1 home loss to Carver College & Career Academy.

Johnson noted that there are teams that are “obviously stronger than we are that we have a difficult time with, but we were able to score on some of those teams this year, which is a positive. We were able to beat one of the teams that we never beat this year, so it shows that the team is coming together.”

She pointed to two contests against Buckingham County High School as the high point of the season for Central.

“We tied Buckingham the first time we played them,” Johnson said, referring to her team’s March 20 home game against the Knights. “It was 2-2 at the end of the game, and then we went into two five-minute overtime periods, and it still remained 2-2. And so the kids were really pumped up with that.”

In the rematch April 26 at Buckingham, the Chargers orchestrated a 4-0 win over the Knights.

“So, that was exciting for the kids — to have played them once and have tied, and then the second time we played them, not only did we win, but it was a shutout,” Johnson said.

Central players listed on the All-Conference 42 second team included senior forward Ben Atkins, junior defender Darion Berrios and sophomore defender Colton Hinkle.

Johnson and her staff also put sophomore midfielder Jordan King up for consideration.

She said one of the main reasons she and her staff picked Atkins, Berrios, Hinkle and King was due to the quartet being true team players.

Johnson noted Berrios is outstanding as a defender because he can see and think ahead, and he moves and tells other players who to cover.

She said he “hustles a hundred percent of the time. He’s just a very strong player, and he’s a junior, so we’ll have him back as a senior next year.”

Atkins has the versatility to play forward and in the midfield.

“Ben is very quick,” Johnson said. “He’s a thinker. He can direct the team as well. He actually scored more goals than anybody on the team but never in any one game over the season.”

He led the Chargers with eight goals.

Johnson added that Central also achieved goals through a variety of players, including sophomore forward Tyler Neal, senior forward Kamren Field, King, Hinkle and freshman midfielder Joseph Grizzle.

“So, the goals were not just dominated by one person, which was good,” Johnson said.

The coach added that her midfielders, including King, Grizzle and Hinkle, also helped with defense.

“Midfield has to be able to come up and go back as well, and so they had a tough job, but the team is coming together,” Johnson said.

Hinkle and King were also quite versatile. Hinkle was listed on the all-conference document as a defender, but Johnson cited him as primarily a midfielder, who, like King and Atkins, can play forward.

“Colton and Jordan both have foot skills,” the coach said, adding that they work well together in the midfield.

Johnson also had praise for the overall Charger defense.

“They were stronger this year, and they had improved from last year, and that definitely helped in us being able to get the wins that we did. …”