A new standard

Published 12:45 pm Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Buckingham County High School varsity boys soccer team season that will be remembered for the squad’s 10 victories came to a close Tuesday with the Knights’ fifth loss.

Holding the No. 3 seed on the east (E) side of the regional bracket, the Knights fell 5-2 to host No. 2E Dan River High School in the Region 2C tournament quarterfinals Tuesday.

“The effort was there,” Buckingham Head Coach Brett Whittington said. “We played hard for 80 minutes, and that’s all you can ask.”

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He noted that the Knights were shorthanded, their roster of 20 players shrinking down to 13 for the game.

Buckingham’s graduation took place May 17, wrapping up the school year, but Whittington indicated there were multiple reasons for the short-handedness.

“We lost two seniors,” he said. “They decided they were done. We had two injuries. Our starting goalie got injured back before (May 8), and then we lost another defender, she got hurt.”

The defender he was referring to was sophomore Olivia Trimble, who played for the team due to Buckingham’s lack of a varsity girls squad this year.

But Whittington declined to lean on the lack of players as an excuse for the loss.

“Everybody deals with that stuff,” he said. “It’s not an excuse. We had a chance. We just faded at the end. It was 2-2 with about 10 minutes left, and we got caught pushing hard one time, and then just a couple mental lapses late in the game cost us two more goals. So we were there. We had a chance. We just couldn’t get it done.”

Freshman Chandler Watson scored the Knights’ first goal, and senior Zach Snoddy scored the second.

Buckingham has enjoyed key contributions this season from sophomore Wesley Snoddy, and Tuesday, cousins Zach Snoddy and junior Christian Snoddy had to step up with fewer players.

“Christian Snoddy actually played goalie for us tonight for his first time ever,” Whittington said. “He did a really good job too, but when you’ve got to plug a young man who’s never played goalie in on a regional playoff game, it’s not a good sign.”

After years of averaging far fewer wins, Buckingham finished the 2019 season with an overall record of 10-5-2.

Whittington considered how he felt about his team’s performance this year.

“The word that we’ve used the last few weeks has (been) ‘proud,’ myself and Mr. (Brian) Caldwell, my assistant coach,” he said. “Just their work ethic and their effort and their intensity and just the way they brought it to every game … To have them show up and play hard every day, that’s all you can ask for, and that’s what we got. And the fact that they fought for 80 minutes tonight being down, they just never quit, and that’s great. The effort was exceptional.”

The coach spoke to the consequences of setting such a great new standard, and he gave advice on how to react to those consequences.

“That’s another thing we discussed with them before the game tonight is because of the season we’ve had this year, with that comes that little word that a lot of people don’t like and that’s ‘expectations,’” Whittington said. “And we were telling them, ‘Don’t be scared of expectations. Embrace it. Go after it. You should want that. You should want a lot to be expected of you, and you should want to be able to fight for that.’”

The coach added, “I think we’ve set a good bar for going forward, and hopefully we can meet and exceed it every year from here on out.”