ROLESVILLE — When Rolesville High soccer coach James Overman showed up for tryouts this summer, he wasn’t sure the Rams would be able to field a team in the school’s first year of operation.
“Only eight people showed up to tryouts,” Overman said.
The school now has a varsity roster of 20 – 15 freshmen and 5 sophomores – and no junior varsity team.
The Rams, winless this year, have fallen victim to the N.C. High School Athletic Association nine-goal rule more than once. The rule states that “if a goal differential of nine is reached by halftime or at any time in the second half, the game shall be terminated.”
The season has not been an easy one with Rolesville competing against mostly juniors and seniors, but the Rams have focused on improving with each game.
“It’s just like a building block every single game,” said freshman goalkeeper Hans Bierer. “Every game we’re working on tiny little goals, like get five passes in a row. We’re just starting small because we have to work up (to) a lot, because some kids have never touched a soccer ball before. So we have to start with the basics, and every game we’re going to get better.”
Rolesville played its closest match of the season Thursday, a 3-0 loss to Wake Forest.
The game allowed the Rams a look at a more even playing field, as Wake Forest coach Jeremiah Mattingly brought more than a dozen junior varsity players to the match.
Rolesville held the Cougars scoreless for the first 36 minutes of the game.
“I think it showed us that when we play against kids who are our age, we have a chance,” Overman said. “Most of our games we’re playing against juniors and seniors who are a lot bigger and stronger and faster than us.”
Overman said that several opposing coaches have been supportive, and other teams have brought a few JV players to sub in near the end of the game. But Wake Forest was the first to bring mostly junior varsity players and play them for the majority of the match.
Mattingly said the decision was one that could benefit both programs.
“We had a lot of (varsity) injuries this week, and I also wanted to give these (JV) guys experience,” Mattingly said of his Wake Forest team. “I told the seniors they get to stay home for this one; rest and ice because they’re all banged up – and so we can get a look at the future. For these guys, the only way you can learn is by actually doing it. So it was a challenge. But we did it and accepted it, and the boys did well.”
Wake Forest was Rolesville’s first opponent of the season, a match the Cougars won 8-1.
The Rams have scored three goals this season. They have allowed 109.
“They improved a ton in just their confidence level, and they did a great job in defensive scheme,” Mattingly said. “I think the coaching has been very good and just their energy was great. ... I was really proud of them.”
Overman, a first-year high school coach and recent graduate of UNC-Greensboro, said that is key for this year’s team.
“That has been one thing I’ve been pleased with: For the most part, even if we’re losing, we’re not giving up on the game,” he said.
Bierer said the players knew it would be an uphill battle heading into the season, but he and his teammates are looking toward the future.
“I was expecting a pretty tough season, but I know with experience and enough time we’ll get there, and we’ll soon be winning a lot of games,” he said.