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Big East Soccer: Conference play a welcome sight for Firebirds

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By SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The beauty of the start of a conference schedule is that, even if every single thing has gone wrong for the first month of the season, all of those games matter much less than what’s ahead.

Example No. 1: Southern Nash soccer, which opens up its conference schedule along with the rest of the Big East today, with a home against Northern Nash at 5 p.m.

At least, that was the message coach Carlos Barron had for his struggling team on Tuesday.

“I called all of them in — junior varsity, varsity — and I told them, everybody is 0-0. Northern is 0-0. Fike is 0-0. All the games we played, yeah, they matter, they count, but not like a conference game,” Barron said after his Tuesday practice, the Firebirds’ first since early last week. “I went through the whole list. I said, ‘Let’s keep that in mind. Let’s put a better foot forward.’”

Southern Nash is coming off of a 2017 campaign where they won the conference in the regular season. They returned the majority of their starters and, entering this season, Barron might have said his team was in for a good year if not for superstition.

It hasn’t gone his team’s way so far. Now would be the perfect time for a ‘start over’ button.

“Everything was pointing in the right direction,” Barron said. “It just takes a couple injuries and a potentially good season can turn into a sour one.”

Indeed, Southern Nash has dealt with its fair share of injuries, but there have been some other causes for the lopsided start. Last year, they had a strong group of seniors who served as each other’s echo when it came to leadership, plus they had a strong goalie in Brannon Price, who was named the Telegram’s 2017 Soccer Player of the Year.

Nine games in, the Firebirds are still looking to establish both of those. On Tuesday, Barron was still juggling between two players to start at goalkeeper for Wednesday’s game, having had one of his most consistent options step away from the team last week.

“There’s not been that one guy who has said, ‘That’s my position.’ I feel good about the guys I have and the effort they’re giving me, they just don’t have the experience,” Barron said.

Alas, the Firebirds are healthier now than they were a few weeks ago, and they still have many of the players who made up last year’s success, and Barron still believes such success can be replicated. Today against the Knights would be a good day to get the ball rolling on that task.

“We have to go with something we believe in and run with it,” Barron said. “I wholeheartedly believe we can turn it around.”

Other Big East action

The Firebirds aren’t the only team happy to see conference season. Rocky Mount High (1-5-1) will host Wilson Hunt (1-6-2) today, and Wilson Fike (4-2-1) will head to Franklinton (6-1-1) for a matchup of the two best teams record-wise so far on the season.

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