Greenbrier boys soccer coach Chip Warren would wait until his Wolfpack had a comfortable lead during games this season before substituting for some of his veteran players.
Matt McCue was usually one of the last ones pulled. The senior defender and The Columbia County News-Times 2008 All-County Boys Soccer Player of the Year led a Wolfpack defense that allowed only 19 goals in 20 games.
"We felt like, when he was out there, we weren't going to get scored on," Warren said. "We made sure we had the game well in hand before we took him out. He was just an anchor back there."
McCue was quick to point out his surrounding cast. McCue, goalkeeper Johnny Paletar, and defenders Clay Carswell and Stephen Schmidt came up playing together. Their cohesiveness made it easy to keep the Wolfpack's defense focused.
"We've played defense a long time," he said. "We know what all of us do."
The Wolfpack won their fourth consecutive championship in Region 3-AAAA this season.
Warren's team finished 7-1 in region play. The Wolfpack's defense allowed more than one goal just four times this season, the last a 3-2 loss to Southeast Whitfield in the third round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
"We knew if we scored two goals we'd be in pretty good shape," Warren said. "We might give up one. We weren't going to give up more than one, usually."
Much of the reason for Greenbrier's defensive success was McCue.
Warren said he heard a lot about the player before he transferred to Greenbrier as a freshman and that McCue exceeded expectations.
"You hear praise about them beforehand, and a lot of times it doesn't turn out as good as what they claimed," Warren said. "But he was better than what he was claimed to be."
Player of the Year
Matt McCue, Greenbrier, Sr.
Coach of the Year
Chip Warren, Greenbrier
Madison Harte, Augusta Prep, Sr.
GISA Class AAA All-State selection finished with eight goals and nine assists. Also named to All-Region team and was the Cavaliers' MVP.
Quint Wilson, Evans, Sr.
Four-year starter has a strong argument for player of the year honors. Scored 10 goals, including five game-winners, and assisted on 17 others. Used as goalkeeper during penalty kicks.
Joel Lillard, Evans, Sr.
One of the fastest players in Columbia County. Finished with 14 goals and eight assists.
Ryan Davis, Evans, Sr.
All-region selection scored seven goals with 10 assists. Known for his accuracy from long range.
Matt McCue, Greenbrier, Sr.
The News-Times Boys Player of the Year led a Wolfpack defense that allowed 19 goals in 20 games. The senior was also the Region 3-AAAA Player of the Year.
Clay Carswell, Greenbrier, Sr.
Joined McCue in helping anchor the Wolfpack defense. Will play for Shorter College next season.
Kelechi Erondu, Greenbrier, So.
Led the county with 26 goals. All-region selection also finished with seven assists.
Joe Hastings, Lakeside, Sr.
The midfielder was the Panthers' captain and finished with five goals and five assists. He'll play for Faulkner College.
Dalton Beckham, Lakeside, So.
The sophomore led and organized the Panthers' defense. He was named as an All-Rregion selection.
Michael Combs, Lakeside, Jr.
The Panthers goalkeeper finished with 155 saves and a 2.14 goals against average. Stopped four penalty kicks during a win at Evans on March 20.
Gabe Warner, Harlem, So.
Averaged more than two goals a game for the Bulldogs, who reached the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
Alex Levy, Augusta Prep, So.
Kian Khazrai, Evans, Sr.
Bryce Cartledge, Evans, Jr.
Jeff DuMond, Evans, So.
Pieter James, Greenbrier, Sr.
Stephen Schmidt, Greenbrier, Sr.
Hunter Norton, Greenbrier, So.
Johnny Paletar, Greenbrier, Sr.
Justin Pitock, Lakeside, So.
Matt Hutchison, Lakeside, So.
A.J. Thibodeau, Harlem, Jr.
Jon Wetherbee (Evans), Joe Rizner (Evans), Chris Fodera (Evans), Stephen Maxwell (Greenbrier), Tyler Sanders (Greenbrier), Kevin Wish (Lakeside), Matt Weinstein (Lakeside), Sean Wagner (Harlem), Robert Emory (Harlem).
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