The resurgent Ridge View boys soccer team is off to a good start this season. The Blazers have won six of eight matches to date, and are very much in the hunt for the Region 4-4A championship. RV stands at 2-1 in region matters, losing only a 1-0 decision to Rock Hill.
“We have 10 returning varsity players, but we’ve also added two foreign exchange student and some young talent that has really made a difference,” said Blazers coach John Donohue. “The seniors on the team have been with me for three years, and we’re benefiting from that continuity.”
In addition to the homegrown talent, German exchange students Tim Walter and Miguel Fernandez have been key to Ridge View’s resurgence. The Blazers suffered through a 6-15 campaign in 2008 and were 11-10 in Donohue’s first season in charge in 2007.
The most impressive wins to date have come against defending Lower State champion Spring Valley and traditional 3A power Chapin. The Blazers nipped Spring Valley 2-1 in overtime in a 4-4A outing on March 20. Jamal Davis tally in OT was the difference after Tony DelValle scored in regulation. Jordan Stoval scored on an assist from C.J. King in regulation against Chapin on Wednesday night, and the Blazers earned the decision with a 5-4 edge in the penalty-kick shootout. Brock Dempsey’s successful conversion proved decisive.
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In other highlights, DelValle and Kyle Dela Merced scored two goals apiece in an 8-1 rimp over Richland Northeast, and Casey White tallied twice in a wild, 6-5 overtime triumph vs. Dreher.
Balance has been the key to the Ridge View attack so far. Davis, Dempsey, DelValle and Dela Merced share the team scoring lead with three goals apiece. Stoval, Eddie Moore and Jon Stori all have two goals on the books.
Ridge View has a key region match on tap Friday in Rock Hill against South Pointe. The host Stallions are one of four teams with 2-1 region records, and recently handed Spring Valley its second straight region setback, 2-1.
“It’s a real big match because there are five pretty equal teams looking for four playoff spots,” said Donohue. “Other than the matches with Lancaster, every region match so far has been decided by one goal. You can’t get more balanced or competitive than that, so every win is a big win.”
The Blazers are currently ranked 13th in Class 4A.