North Surry’s soccer team can only hope that Phil Jordan’s current one-year stint as a soccer coach goes as well as his last one did.
Jordan, a retired teacher and coach from the Surry County school system, will step in as head boys’ soccer coach for the Greyhounds on an interim basis for the 2016 season. Rachel Escobar, the coach of the team for the past four seasons, is out on maternity leave, but will return next fall.
In the meantime, North Surry couldn’t have hoped for a better fill-in.
“I was retired four years ago, and they asked me to come out of retirement at Gentry (middle school) four years ago,” he said. “Part of the deal was that I would coach soccer.”
In Jordan’s one season of coaching the Patriots, they posted a perfect 14-0 record. Several of the players on that team are now seniors for North Surry.
Will history repeat itself, only this time with the coach and his players hoisting a trophy on the pitch on Nov. 19 in Raleigh as undefeated state champions? Jordan won’t quite go that far.
“This is going to be much, much different competition that what we had in middle school, I’m sure of that,” he said. “You always want to win all of the games you play, but that’s not always realistic. What we would like to do is be in the running for the conference championship. I know that Forbush and Surry Central are both very good teams and that we will have our work cut out for us.”
Last fall, North Surry posted a 3-17-1 record while working with a roster that included eight freshmen and two sophomores out of 23 players. The Greyhounds were competitive in several matches, but the inexperience, particularly off the bench, took a toll on the team’s competitiveness.
Jordan finds himself in a much more optimistic situation this time around.
“We have about 14 players back from last year’s team, and quite a few of them have a lot of experience,” he said. “If we play well and come together as a team, we should have a chance at the playoffs and a conference title.”
Most of the team’s seniors played for Jordan on that unbeaten team at Gentry four years ago. Among the top returning seniors are midfielder Victor Casas, a three-year starter; along with defenders Eduardo Luna, Alfredo Vazquez, Zach Eaton, goalkeeper Iván Barrientos, and forwards Jonathan Cabrera and Javier Vera.
One newcomer who has impressed the coach is Junior Lopez, a freshman who played for Gentry last fall.
“He’s looked really good in preseason,” the coach said. “We’ll have to see how he does in the games, but he looks good.”
North Surry’s last playoff team came two years ago, when the team qualified as a wild-card for the 2A tournament and lost to Salisbury in the first round. In order to earn a trip back, the Hounds will have to be competitive in conference play while doing well against a challenging non-conference schedule that includes Mount Airy and East Surry twice each, along with Elkin, Starmount, North Wilkes, Wilkes Central, Walkertown and Atkins. Last year, North Surry played the same slate of opponents and went just 3-9 against them.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.