The Wando High School boys' soccer team did not give up single goal during its playoff run to a state championship this season, and one reason why is a 6-4 junior named Joshua Masten.
ALL-LOWCOUNTRY BOYS SOCCER TEAM
Honorable Mention: Nick Wright, Wando; Chesapeake Charles, Charleston Charter; Corey Umstead, Porter-Gaud; Aidan Hekker, Porter-Gaud Shep Davis, Porter-Gaud; Kevin Weber, Pinewood Prep; Thomas Osborne, Pinewood Prep; Brad Rumble, Northwood Academy; Andrew Johnstone, Palmetto Christian; Yamir Watts, Stratford; Tristen Ray, Stratford; Tyler Tekac, Stratford; Ryan Bailey, West Ashley; Tyler Pentz, West Ashley; Jester Ascuncion, Goose Creek; Omar Miramontes, Goose Creek; Moises Gallegos, Goose Creek; Bradley Sanders, Cane Bay; Ian Campbell, Cane Bay; Evan Tanner, James Island; Bryce Downing, James Island; Brad Franklin, James Island; Moe Abdallah, Stall; Carlos Garduza, Stall; Kal Goble, Hanahan; Vance Bailey, Berkeley.
From his center back position, Masten anchored the Warriors' stingy defense and came up big during key games, helping Wando to a No. 1 national ranking and its first state championship since 2011. Masten is also the All-Lowcountry boys soccer player of the year.
While going 29-1-1 this season, the Warriors gave up only 14 goals in 31 games, recorded 17 shutouts and allowed more than one goal in a game only twice.
"Obviously, our backline did great and Josh was such a big leader back there," said Wando coach Shilo Tisdale. "He has a great understanding of his role in holding and very rarely gets beat one versus one. He's so deadly in knowing when to play the long ball, and smart enough to know when to play it simple."
Despite his role as a defensive stalwart, Masten also displayed a knack for scoring. He was MVP of the Warriors' Raising Canes Carolina Classic tournament to open the season, and then was MVP again during the prestigious Palmetto Cup tournament in Columbia, Masten scored the deciding goal - on a free kick in the 70th minute - in a 2-1 win over Farragut (Tenn.), then ranked No. 1 in the nation. That win helped the Warriors gain the No. 1 ranking, briefly, for themselves.
For the season, Masten scored nine goals, "unheard of for a center back," Tisdale said.
Masten began honing his soccer instincts early, starting travel ball at age eight. He was invited to play for the South Carolina United Battery Academy, but a year playing for Wando convinced him that high school soccer was right for him.
"There's more camaraderie in high school," he said. "You are practicing every day, you're on the bus together. It's more of a family."
Masten is already receiving recruiting attention from schools such as College of Charleston and UNC Greensboro, but is aiming to play in the ACC.
"I think he can play at that level," Tisdale said. "He's really developed in the last couple of years. He's starting to understand how to use his body and he's gained a lot of attention from the big-time coaches."
Wando's state championship was a team effort, of course, and the Warriors placed five players on the All-Lowcountry first team aside from Masten - Alex Bourland, Darby Martens, Christopher Corontzes, Jackson Karolczyk and Tucker Heffron.
Academic Magnet, which won its second Class AA state title in three years under coach Jason Hamil, placed four players on the All-Lowcountry team: Brady Allardice, Alex Lanning, Colton Frankel and Ray Nugent.
James Island won its first region title in 17 years and made a run to the Class AAA Lower State finals, earning All-Lowcountry coach of the year honors for Todd Robinson. Trojans Garrett Glaze and Lars Bentley also made the All-Lowcountry team.
Rounding out the All-Lowcountry squad are Logan Devereux of Hanahan; Luis Lemus of Stall; Juan Villa-Bailey of West Ashley; Stockton Blanchard of Ashley Ridge; Spencer Wilder of Fort Dorchester; and Malik McDonald of Charleston Charter, which advanced to the Class A state title game.
The All-Lowcountry team was assembled using all-state, all-region and all-star rosters with input from area coaches.