Each year, the Cardinal Newman boys’ soccer squad bears a high standard, and this year is no exception.
“In theory, nothing has changed,” said coach Will Eudy, who last year piloted the Cardinals to a 17-5 finish and the SCISA Class 3A semifinals. “We always try to keep the same goals and the same focus. That’s been our formula, that’s what we’re going to try to stick with.”
But even as they are led by a strong group of seniors centered around two-time All-American Koty Millard, the Cardinals are facing a few challenges.
“So far, we’re a little bit young and inexperienced and we’re having a hard time finding a consistent level of play,” Eudy said.
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The Cardinals (6-3-1) have strong leadership from Millard and the seniors, but it is taking a while for the team to get things headed in the right direction.
Even Millard, a future South Carolina Gamecock, was unclear on how best to push his team toward its goals.
“I was actually confused in the beginning about my role on the team, because I know I’m a senior, and at the beginning, I felt like I should do most of the work,” said Millard, who has missed seven games because of conflictes with his club team.
“But I’ve come to realize that I’ve got to let the younger guys do a lot of it. They are the ones that are going to have to keep it going.”
Eudy said Millard’s presence has proved invaluable for the transitioning Cardinals.
“I don’t think you can put a value on it,” Eudy said. “He’s a class kid, unbelievable on and off the field. He’s our engine. He’s up and down everywhere. He puts a little bit of confidence in everybody, a little bit of calm in everybody.”
Eudy and Millard both said reaching the team’s goals is about getting the younger players on the same page with its seniors.
“It’s just a difference in urgency. The young guys don’t feel as if this is their last run at it,” Eudy said.
But it is just a matter of time, Millard believes.
In the meantime, the role of team leader is making Millard a better player.
“For me, it’s the biggest difference that I just have to lead, and it has helped me to step up more,” he said.
And it will eventually make the Cardinals a better team, too, Eudy said.
“With the help of these guys’ leadership, we are aiming to get better every time we practice and play, and I want us to be peaking in May.”