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RichlandsAlum

Coulda/Woulda/Shoulda

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Since the 2020 soccer season looks to be a complete loss, I'm in a mood to be hypothetical. 

Liberty (Bedford) was positioned to have one of its most competitive teams in the history of the program.  A large contributing factor was the presence of three exchange students (two from Italy and one from Germany).  One of the Italians played within the youth program of Juventus FC.  The German kid played aggressively on offense -- in a manner that apparently not many opposing players see around these parts.  All three exchange students had demonstrated some flashes of brilliance over the course of the past several months.  They were supplemented by a group of upperclassmen (including my son and his senior classmates) who have been playing together pretty much since they were four years old -- and who had experienced some decent success in travel ball over the years.  The level of chemistry of this team was pretty amazing -- both on offense and defense.  They really seemed to intuitively know where and how to play positions and formations at any given time.

In the fall our local club organization played friendlies against several private schools in our area and up around Charlottesville and went undefeated against them all.  Same was true in a showcase event played in January.  Before things were scuttled, LHS played two scrimmages on the road.  We beat William Byrd and tied Martinsville.  Fact of the matter is that the Minutemen likely would have crushed them both in matches that had any real meaning.  (And the German kid broke his foot in the first scrimmage at Byrd -- so we played at Martinsville without him.)

The Seminole District is pretty well stocked with good teams -- including many perennial contenders at the 4A level.  But by all conservative estimates we felt like we had a chance to make a pretty deep run within the 3A level (where we play as the smallest district school in terms of enrollment).  Western Albemarle would have been our biggest obstacle at the regional level -- but playing at our best and firing on all cylinders, we thought we could at least hang with them.

Of course, this is all just my opinion.  The fact that we'll never know just how good this team could have been is a bitter pill.

I apologize for venting.  The Seminole District isn't even within the geographic focus of this site.  Just felt the need to get this off my chest.

What other teams had high aspirations that were denied?

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The Galax soccer team would have been the overwhelming favorite to win the Class 1 state championship for the 4th consecutive year and sixth in seven seasons.  Last season was supposed to be a "rebuilding" year after graduating most of the team the previous year.  They began the season slow but won 10 of their last 11 to win a third straight state title. Given the fact that only two players from last season were lost to graduation, a four-peat was very much a possibility.

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7 minutes ago, UVAObserver said:

TBH, I’m surprised more schools don’t bring in foreign exchange ringers for soccer purposes.  Seems like a loophole that could be pretty well abused, given the importance of soccer in Europe.

Galax is accused quite often of bringing in "ringers" although, not foreign exchange students.  The Galax soccer kids take a level of verbal abuse that would make anyone with a conscience sick to their stomach!!!!!  It's absolutely pathetic!!!!!  Those kids never reply, never acknowledge and never retaliate.  All with a smile on their faces. 

I would think the club teams in Europe would be far more valuable to good players than the opportunity to play high school soccer in Virginia.  But I don't know that for sure.

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7 minutes ago, UVAObserver said:

TBH, I’m surprised more schools don’t bring in foreign exchange ringers for soccer purposes.  Seems like a loophole that could be pretty well abused, given the importance of soccer in Europe.

It's a fairly common practice around here (Lynchburg/Seminole District area).  Liberty has pretty much always had at least one exchange student on the roster.  In fact our German kid this year is the younger brother of a kid who played at LHS a couple of years ago.  Rustburg had a tough team a couple of years ago that was mainly carried by two Germans of their own.  But it's hit or miss in terms of using it as a recruiting tool.  For every year that it has worked out well (like our last regional playoff winner that featured two kids from Slovakia) it seems like there are two seasons in which the foreign players don't really pan out.

Outside of the exchange student angle there are still plenty of opportunities for shenanigans in our area.  The presence of LCA speaks for itself.  And although the enrollment zones are adjacent and pretty close to one another, it seems that the better public school players in Lynchburg somehow magically wind up at E.C. Glass or Jefferson Forest -- while Heritage and Brookville always seem to be on the shorter end in terms of talent.

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1 minute ago, sixcat said:

Galax is accused quite often of bringing in "ringers" although, not foreign exchange students.  The Galax soccer kids take a level of verbal abuse that would make anyone with a conscience sick to their stomach!!!!!  It's absolutely pathetic!!!!!  Those kids never reply, never acknowledge and never retaliate.  All with a smile on their faces. 

I would think the club teams in Europe would be far more valuable to good players than the opportunity to play high school soccer in Virginia.  But I don't know that for sure.

Quite a few "immigrant" kids at certain schools around here (using quotation marks because a lot of them are actually natural born American citizens themselves).  With no intent to sound condescending or patronizing, those guys and their families are all great.  They really contribute a lot to the game and our players (both LHS and the club) have always appreciated the opportunity to get to know them and "up their game" by the increased level of competition.  Kind of the intent of sports at its purest level, I think.

LHS really hit the jackpot with regard to exchange students this year.  But other than Felix (our German player), we got lucky.  The Italian guys wound up here mainly because Bedford was their cheapest option to come to America.  I knew that Matteo was pretty darned good (his host family is just around the corner from us and he is a frequent guest at our house).  But I only found out about his association with Juventus just the other day. 

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