Expectations are high for this year’s Highlands soccer team, as they should be, considering the team has not lost a conference game in four years. The Highlanders have started where they left off last season, winning their first four conference games, including a 6-0 rout of Blue Ridge on Sept. 19. The Highlanders also easily disposed of conference rival Cherokee, 5-0, on Monday.
In his sixth season as head coach, Chris Green hopes to propel the Highlanders to a state championship appearance. “So far, we have played well. We lost to some bigger schools, Franklin and Polk, but we played well in those games. Polk is always strong, but playing schools like that helps us get better. We have had trouble finishing this year, but I believe we have turned the corner the past three games,” said Green. “We’ve also had a few injuries that have hindered us earlier this season, but we should be getting some of those players back on the field soon,” he said.
Green feels confident about his team’s potential for a variety of reasons. Most notably, the Highlanders returned a lot of starters from a team that went to the third round of the state playoffs last year, losing 4-1 to a Hendersonville team that eventually went on to win the state championship.
“We have quality leadership on this team, Our three captains are strong leaders and we have a lot of seniors who know what winning is all about,” said Green. “I think our combination of experience and speed will put us in a good position to compete for a state championship,” he said. “I know we have not lost a conference game in four years and I think our players care a lot about that record, but we can’t live in the past and I think our team understands that. If we stay focused and confident, we should be well situated to make a run later on this season.”
The team is led by 10 seniors, who are fully capable of taking the team to the next level. Isaac Beavers, Cody St. Germain, and Tyler Converse represent the Highlanders as team captains.
“We want to win state,” said Highlands Senior and four year starter Andrew Renfro. Their goal of going all the way will not be easy, but with their level of talent and experience, the Highlanders could very well accomplish the enormous feat.
Senior Highlander and team captain Tyler Converse is optimistic about the team’s durability and potential. “We are young and fast, and we’ve got the experience, so we are definitely capable of accomplishing our goals,” said Converse. “We need to take one game at a time, concentrate at practice and at getting better, and I think we got a good shot of going really deep in the playoffs. “We have to continue to get better, focus on each game individually, and I think we should be able to do some good things.”
The Highlanders are 7-2-2 this season and are striving to get better as conference play gets under way. “We are always competitive, regardless of who we play,” said Senior leader Andrew Renfro. Renfro has sat out the past few games with a hand injury, but hopes to get back on the field in early October. “It’s frustrating to sit and watch, but I don’t have a choice,” said Renfro.
Like his fellow teammate, Renfro strongly believes that the Highlanders can accomplish great things this season. “We are expecting to have a good season. We are a bit smaller compared to last year, but we are faster too. We also have great touch around the ball and we are experienced, so yeah, I think we can do well. I just really want us to get past the third round this year, and hopefully win state,” he said.
The Highlanders expect to do very well this season, and so far the team is undefeated in conference.