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Knights want region title, longer postseason life

Last spring, Stratford High School’s boys soccer team snagged a share of a region crown and advanced to the second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs.

The targets this season for the Knights are not to share the region trophy and clear a wall that has denied them access to the third round of the playoffs.

“We want to compete for the region championship again,” Stratford boys soccer coach Jessie Stament said. “We definitely want to get ourselves playoff-bound and make it further than we did the last two years. We’ve made it to the second round two years in a row and weren’t able to advance. We want to keep the ride going.”

Stament is a two-time region coach of the year and senior striker Bryan Diaz and junior midfielder Rodney Miller head the group returning as all-region selections. At least 10 lettermen are back on the 22-man roster.

The Knights (7-3) won for the fourth time in five games with a 5-0 victory over visiting Cane Bay March 21 in the Region 6-AAAAA opener. Diaz, Miller, junior Jackson McNeil, junior Vinny Texeira and junior Terence Seals scored goals and junior Enzo Mori is the main goal keeper.

Stratford edged Summerville, 3-1, on March 16, getting goals from Seals, freshman Brandon Martinez and freshman Christian Carden. Sophomore Harold Carranza dished out two assists.

“We’re very good on attack,” Stament said. “I feel like were a very good possession team. We’re starting to find our stride on finishing our opportunities. One of the hardest parts is putting the ball in the net. We’re starting to have some some success there.”

An extra pass here or there and some additional composure has paid off in terms of goals scored recently. The Knights have been more deliberate in getting the shot they want versus settling for a shot too far or too wide out.

“It is shot selection,” Stament said. “There is a specific zone where we’ve scored 98 pct of our goals. I just keep trying to emphasize that’s where we want to get the ball before we take that final shot.”

Diaz and McNeil lead the way with five goals apiece, while Texeira and Seals have reached the back of the net three times each. Carranza paces the team in assists.

On the other end of the field, Carranza and junior Nathan Arroyo are the center backs. Sophomore Tyler Stament and freshman Silas Miller are the left and right backs.

“The whole group back there is starting to find their niche,” Stament said. “We’ve collectively gotten better each week.”

The Knights travel to Wando on March 24 (after press time) before hosting Berkeley on March 28. They head to rival Goose Creek on March 31 to complete the first rotation through region play.

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