Augusta Prep player Patrick Welch, left, dribbles the ball past Frederica Academy's Ward McCarthy in the first half of the game. The Cavaliers won 8-0.
Photo by Annette M. Drowlette
Augusta Preparatory Day School's soccer players assembled Wednesday for a team photo at Boardman Gymnasium, and the Cavaliers had no trouble mugging for the camera.
Thanks to a strong start to the 2002 season, it's impossible to wipe the smiles off their faces.
"Winning is a really different feeling," senior Wes Mishoe said. "School spirit has shot through the roof."
Augusta Prep improved its record to 8-0 with a ?-? home win Thursday over Alleuia. With a victory this weekend at Trinity Christian, the Cavs would match the school record for consecutive wins in a season, a mark established in 1997.
"We just focus on the next game. That keeps us from getting cocky," senior Mark LaVine said. "We don't look behind, we don't look ahead."
And during the photo session, the players never looked up - directly overhead hung a banner earned in '97, when Augusta Prep finished as state runners-up in the Georgia Independent Schools Association.
Although Augusta Prep took two Georgia High School Association state soccer titles in the 1970s, the '97 team also set a standard. The second-place finish is Prep's best since the school joined the GISA in 1993.
"I remember the '97 season. I was in seventh grade then, and it was such a big deal at the school," LaVine said. "We've all wanted that to happen again, and this year we're working hard for it. The whole school is behind us."
The Cavaliers posted a 5-10 record in 2001, but things have turned around under second-year coach Doug Williamson.
"It's very gratifying so far to see the change in attitude and work ethic from last year to this year," Williamson said. "These guys have decided they want to do what it takes to win."
Augusta Prep player Peter Schuhmaker, left, attempts to pass the ball as Frederica Academy's Michael Eubanks tries to gain possession.
Photo by Annette M. Drowlette
And win big. Earlier this month, Prep ran roughshod over region opponents Bulloch Academy and Frederica Academy. The Cavaliers posted 8-0 wins in both matches, and German foreign exchange student Peter Schumacher tallied five goals against Frederica.
"The interesting dynamic of those games was Peter's five goals came on the heels of a game where we had eight different goal scorers," Williamson said. "If somebody marks Peter out of the game, we have other weapons."
Williamson credited midfielders B. Avery, Ian Evans, Michael Crosland and Patrick Welch with solid play.
Improving the tactical approach on the pitch is only one part of the Prep puzzle. Williamson also has had his players get in touch with their cerebral side this season.
"We're not playing head games, but we are trying to stay positive," Williamson says. "When we want to make a correction, rather than saying, 'Don't do this,' we say, 'Here's what we want you to do."'
Another mental exercise expounded by Williamson is visualization.
"The coaching technique is painting pictures," he explained. "Five minutes before they go to bed, we want them to visualize themselves being successful at something in the next match. We want to show them a picture of what the best choice is, of how to properly accomplish a technique."
So far, so good - the real test, however, arrives Tuesday, when two-time defending GISA state champion Westminster visits Augusta Prep for a 5 p.m. match.
"The whole school is looking forward to it," Schumacher said of the war with the Wildcats.
The Cavaliers have only beaten their local rival once in school history, and that was during the magical '97 season.
Augusta Prep already can picture an instant replay.
"I'm pretty sure we'll be 9-0 heading into that game - and 10-0 afterward," Welch said Wednesday. "Confidence is a huge thing. The '97 team started 5-0; we beat that record and we're still going. Hopefully, we can make it to the state finals like they did."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.