Some former Columbia County high school soccer players had a ball during the recently completed college season.
Lakeside graduate Jonathan Wilson was the only freshman to make the traveling team at Covenant College, and he eventually earned a starting job as a midfielder and striker for the Scouts.
Covenant advanced to the NAIA national tournament for the first time since 1986, and the squad completed the season with a trip to the Elite Eight and a final record of 21-3-1.
Both the men's and women's soccer teams at Iowa Central Community College earned berths in the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament - Greenbrier's Kelli Fuzy and Lakeside's Abe Detchemendy made solid contributions for the Tritons.
Also, Lakeside's John Radeck scored 12 goals for his Belmont Abbey team, and was an honorable-mention All-Conference selection.
At Georgia State College in Atlanta, Greenbrier graduate Brooks Daniel was selected to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman team. The speedy striker helped pace the Panthers to their first winning season since 1999.
In Division I soccer, Greenbrier's Keith Borgner got some playing time at goalkeeper for University of Alabama-Birmingham, while Lakeside's Nick Edmond suited up for Charleston Southern.
Lakeside boys soccer coach Dave Morgan regularly surfs the internet in an effort to check up on former Columbia County stars, and its been nothing but good news in 2002.
"To make that kind of impact says a lot for their work ethic," Morgan said. "Most of them worked out together over the summer at Augusta Soccer Park, and it really paid off. It's good to see them representing our area high schools at the college level."
Greenbrier Lady Wolfpack soccer coach Alex Heider believes there is a cause-and-effect happening on the pitch - the tactical skills learned in the prep ranks prepare players to excel collegiately.
"Columbia County soccer is improving greatly, and the quality of players has definitely improved," Heider said. "The travel teams and the high school programs have both contributed to that."
While the former high school standouts have moved on to bigger things, they also have blazed a trail for others to follow.
"The more high school players we have going to college, the more recognition we'll get locally, and more players will sign," Morgan said. "College scouts will think of Augusta as a soccer town. We're already starting to get that kind of reputation."
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