special to the times
Riverside Christian Academy’s high school soccer team is positioned for another successful season this year after winning the Middle Tennessee Conference Championship in 2013.
The Knights hope to defend their MTAC championship title this season.
Gabe Clements, RCA’s head soccer coach, said, “One of our team’s strengths is the athleticism of the players. We have a lot of great athletes; some of them do not have much soccer experience, but they are learning quickly. Another strength is that the team has shown that they can play hard and endure adversity since we began practice in early January. Other high points are our defense, our center midfielder and our attacking front.”
Coach Clements is assisted by Matthew Sain, Wes Collum and Kelly Yorba on both of RCA’s middle and high school soccer teams.
RCA’s coaches said that one of the team’s weaknesses is inexperience; the Knights lost seven of last year’s starters to graduation and injury. One of the Knights’ lost starters from last season was the goalkeeper, so the coaches have been training new players to fill in at that position. The coaches also said they will continue to work on holding formation during practice to improve on their game.
RCA’s team captains are Seth Mann and Ryan Eldridge. Seth is a sophomore who has played soccer for RCA since his fifth-grade year. Seth plays center midfield for the Knights. RCA’s coaches said he was chosen as captain because of his leadership; the coaches also touted Seth’s ability to create a lot of offense and his team mentality.
Ryan is a junior, and this is his fifth year to play for RCA; he plays striker for the Knights. RCA’s coaches said he is a great vocal leader for the team, and that he has good footwork and speed and is willing to learn.
“Rebecca Sain is probably our most improved player from last year to this year,” said Coach Clements. “At the beginning of the season, we didn’t expect her to start on defense, but she has worked hard and improved her game; now she is starting at sweeper.”
Sophomore Caleb Durham is new to soccer this season, but he has picked up the game quickly. The RCA coaches believe that he will contribute to the team’s success this season because he is coachable and takes instruction well. They also said he has a lot of potential, great speed, a good attitude, and a solid work ethic.
In addition to the players already mentioned, the Knights have three seniors returning to play varsity soccer this year: Jake Bradford, Madison Quick and Cody Thurman. Juniors Lucas Bradford and Kayla Hunt, are new additions to the team. Sophomore Josh Hill is returning to play Knights soccer for his second year. Freshmen Morgan Ivey and Dylan Nedeau are also new additions to the team, and Luke Eakes moved up from the middle school to the varsity team this season. Eighth-graders Logan Crabtree, Will Eldridge, Olivia Mann, Katie McWhirter and Storm Smith will also contribute on the Knights’ varsity soccer team this year.
The Knights will play their first home game tonight against Covenant Christian at 7 p.m.