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The Brevard High School varsity soccer team has got off to a strong start this season. (Times photo by Jordon Morgan)

“Take it to the next level!” is the theme of the Brevard High School boys’ soccer team for the upcoming fall season.

After having the “best conference finish since 2012,” according to Coach Craig Long and making the playoffs for the first time since 2012, the players are reportedly looking forward to doing even better.

On Monday they got off to a perfect start winning the opening game of the season 8-2 away to Swain.

Last year it was a little surprising the Blue Devils made the playoffs since their overall regular record recorded more losses than wins.

When the fall 2021 season concluded, the team had a finishing record of nine wins, 11 losses and two ties.

Their conference record, however, was better and included seven wins and five losses.

When it comes to addressing shortcomings from last year, Long points to a few brief but specific areas.

“We need to work on finishing in the third with playing the ball wide and crossing, and we need to play better one-two combinations,” he said.

In terms of the player roster, Long said BHS has “a young, yet experienced team with three sophomores, 16 juniors and only two seniors, Manny Baron-Gasper and Tyler Glance.”

Long also highlighted some key areas of the team that he feels should be their focus going into the season.

“Our defense should be strong as we return two all-regional defensive players: Parker Sisney and Jaxon Turner, and our goalkeeper, Connor Fennessy, was a freshman last year who for the first year at the varsity level did an excellent job,” he said.

Returning on defense for the Blue Devils is junior Austin Dodd and Baron-Gasper.

On offense, Glance returns from last season at midfield, along with the Devils’ second leading scorer, Noah Backes.

Much like last year’s shortcomings, Long was equally succinct with what the team’s strategy for this year would be.

“We will emphasize defense first and then finishing in the final third. We will adjust to our opponent and the field size,” he said.

According to Long, the strengths of the team are in their experience level and the players’ flexibility.

“In our summer workouts we can definitely see a lot of team unity, quicker decision making and players making good ‘off ball’ adjustments,” he said. “The players have worked hard during summer workouts and are doing skills and techniques they need to be successful by coaching and encouraging one another.”

Brevard’s next match will be away on Aug. 22 against North Henderson High School.

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