AMERICAN CORNER — The Bulldogs ended one long drought, now they hope to halt another that stretches back to the beginning.
North Caroline High’s boys’ soccer team shut out Colonel Richardson, 6-0, on Friday, Oct. 18, locking up the North Bayside title for the first time since 2008.
The Bulldogs, now 9-3-1 overall and 7-0-1 in division play, faced South champion Parkside, 7 p.m., Monday night at Kent Island High’s Andy Schipul Stadium in the Bayside Conference final. They are going for their first-ever conference championship.
“Our players have truly bought into the team concept,” Caroline head coach John Austin said via email Saturday. “They work extremely hard every day at practice and that translates into our game play.
“They are very close on and off the field and I believe that pays dividends when times get tough on the field,” Austin added. “My four captains — Evan Amador, Austin Barnes, Justin Tasker and Brett Blue — have embodied this sense of family, as each of them have been a varsity member for at least three years. They make coaching easy as everyone is on the same page and everyone plays for each other.”
Luke Williams scored twice, and Nick Chong, Alex Castro, Lucas Sloan and Eli Canade each netted one to complete the Bulldogs’ scoring, with five of the goals coming in the second half. Chris Jones made three saves to preserve the shutout, Caroline’s sixth of the year, including four in a row in the middle of September.
The Bulldogs have yielded only 11 goals this season, and the offense has also been stellar, featuring 15 different players who scored goals.
“This speaks to the true strength of our team,” Austin said. “Everyone has a piece of our success. It is something we stressed on the first day to be successful.
“It was going to take a team effort and that has been taken to heart by this team, and our stats show that,” Austin added. “We do not have one player that you can key on, as everyone is a contributor and everyone goes to goal.”
The season didn’t come without challenges.
Caroline suffered through a three-game winless streak from Oct. 3 to Oct. 10, a scoreless tie with St. Michaels being sandwiched by losses to James M. Bennett (2-1) and Parkside (3-2), the two schools that went neck and neck for the South division.
The win of the season followed, when the Bulldogs defeated Kent Island, 3-1, on the road, the Buccaneers’ first division loss since 2015. The victory against their struggling county foes seemed like a formality, and now Caroline gets a shot at the Bayside crown after six straight losses since the game’s inception in 1971.
“The final game in that streak, Parkside, was a turning point, because we really put a good effort together against a very good squad and our belief in each other strengthened,” Austin said of overcoming the late-season swoon.