Wando’s Clark grows into soccer star

Erik Clark of Wando is the Soccer player of the year. (Grace Beahm/postandcourier.com)

Erik Clark wasn’t exactly the proverbial 98-pound weakling when he began his soccer career at Wando High School.

He was more like 99 pounds and barely 5 feet tall.

But he worked hard at soccer, and he grew. By the time he completed his senior year, the 5-8, 150-pound standout cemented his legacy as one of the Warriors’ most honored players.

Clark was the team MVP this spring after leading the Warriors with 23 goals and 30 assists. He was named the Class AAAA state player of the year and was nominated to be an All-American. And, he is The Post and Courier’s male soccer player of the year and heads up the All-Lowcountry team.

“He physically struggled when he first joined the program,” Wando coach Shilo Tisdale said. “He’s wasn’t the fastest or biggest. But it was like a blessing in disguise. He had to work hard to keep up. Once he grew, all that work put him over the top.”

Tisdale said Clark is a student of the game.

“He would show up before practice and do the extra work,” the coach said. “He would not just shoot around. He would ask for a bag of balls and cones and work on his skills, his technique.

“He’s a true student; loves to play it, loves to watch it. He’s the smartest player that I’ve ever coached. Every part of the game that involves thinking, he’s the best.”

Clark’s four-year run as a varsity player is impressive any way you crunch the numbers. Wando was 100-13 from 2010-13 and won a state title in 2011 while finishing state runner-up in ’12.

The 2013 season might have been one of the greatest seasons ever, but the Warriors were stunned in the second round of the playoffs when Dutch Fork pulled off a 2-1 shocker.

It ended the Warriors’ season at 22-1. Clark gave his team a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute, but the Warriors were cold the rest of the way.

“We still had a great season,” Clark said. “It was a huge accomplishment to be ranked No. 1 in the country for a month and a half. That’s a huge honor. We just couldn’t score in that game.”

Clark has been selected to play in July’s Clash of the Carolinas, which features seniors from the Palmetto State vs. their counterparts from North Carolina. After that, it will be time to enroll at the College of Charleston and play for coach Ralph Lundy’s squad.

Clark is one of four Warriors on the All-Lowcountry team. Joining him are Andrew Davis, Charlie Heffron and Alistair Jones.

Bishop England, which claimed the Class AA state championship, is also well represented. The Bishops’ selections are Drew Costa, Mateo Gomez and Ross Rogers.

Academic Magnet, the No. 1-ranked team in Class AA for most of the season, has four players on the team — Brady Allardice, Wyatt Ball, Jonathan Glenn and Mack Koewler.

The rest of the team includes Alan Hernandez of Stall; Justin Overstreet of Stratford; Nick Smillie of James Island; and George Grice of Porter-Gaud.

Ed Khouri, who led Bishop England to its 16th state title in soccer, is the coach of the year.