Six years ago Coach Corey McConville arrived to take the reins of the fledgling soccer program at Matoaca Middle School. The team’s history was not a good one, with winless seasons being the norm. McConville’s first Warrior team included 7th graders Dylan Prendergast, Mason Page, and Nathan Calhoun, three players that would give Matoaca a foretaste of things to come.
That first year, the Warriors played some close games, but would eke out only one win. Strangely enough that victory came against a Salem Church team that would also become a big part of Matoaca soccer history. That spring, Chesterfield County Public Schools redrew their attendance lines bringing Spencer Koch and Will Topping over from Salem.
McConville expertly blended the talent from the two cellar-dwelling teams and that next year they advanced all the way to the County Middle School Championship game. McConville was selected later that year to coach the youthful varsity squad at Matoaca High School. The team played some great games, but found themselves on the outside looking in that first season. The club finished fifth, with only four teams advancing to the district tournament. Each year the Warriors continued to close the gap and finally this season Coach Mark Fowler labeled them the “team to beat in our district”.
Dale and Matoaca met twice during the regular season and both times the Knights escaped with narrow victories. In the district finals however, center mid Nathan Calhoun knocked in the equalizer and sophomore Ryan Clapman scored in sudden death to carry the Warriors to their first district title.
Mason Page was named the district Player of the Year and will be headed to ODU to continue his soccer career. He was also honored to play in the VHSL all-star game to be held in Hampton next month. “Mason is a special talent,” commented Spencer Koch who will join both Mason and Dylan at ODU. He continued, “The team just got better and better. We knew we would contend with the arrival of Ryan Clapman.” Just finishing his sophomore season Clapman is receiving many of the same raves that had been reserved for Page. “Our MVP this year was really Nathan Calhoun. He didn’t show up in the greatest of shape, but once he got back in the center-mid position, we just jelled,” added the Matoaca keeper.
The team also rallied around Wil Topping in the tournament. Topping was put in position where he needed to foul a Dale player to prevent a breakaway in the regular season finale. “A foul for sure,” commented McConville, but inexplicably Topping was red carded meaning he was out for the first game of the tournament. His teammates responded by wearing homemade “4-Wil” t-shirts as they prepared for the first round against Meadowbrook. Topping will be a third generation Yellow Jacket at Randolph Macon. He plans on continuing his soccer career there as well.
Page could hardly contain himself when exclaiming, “We finally beat Thomas Dale!” It was too, the game that meant the most. “It has been a great experience. I can’t say enough about Coach McConville. My teammates are my best buddies, but it is time to move on.”
The seniors have laid a tremendous foundation for Warrior soccer, going where no other team has gone before. As the Warriors look forward to 2011, the team will be led by rising senior Ethan Bickford and future star Ryan Clapman. The Warriors have tasted victory and hope to continue to experience its sweetness.