Jaelyn Campanella, Staff Writer
As we kick off a new school year, we also welcome back fall sports, including Men’s Soccer. Coming off of a hot streak that ended with the Bulldogs being crowned national champions in 2017, they have a reputation of the top team to uphold. Not only did the Bulldogs claim the national championship last year, but for the past four years, they have won the South Atlantic Conference title.
Coach Gary Hamill said, “The upcoming season is always a challenge since we have been the top team in the league for the last several years.”
Hamill has been the head coach for 27 seasons and has been named the SAC Coach of the Year eight times, and Regional Coach of the Year twice. He is hopeful for the team this year and is excited for the opportunity to rebuild the team, since they graduated 10 seniors last year and only two of the starters are returning players.
One player to look out for is senior Pablo Jara. As the goalkeeper, he plays a vital role in the Bulldogs’ success, and has 29 career shutouts, which ranks second in SAC history. Jara was Wingate’s first player to be named a three-time All American in the school’s history and also earned All-SAC and All-Region honors for three consecutive years.
This season is unlike the past few years for the team, because it is a year of uncertainty. With so much of the past team gone it will be interesting to see the new players start. Luckily, there were no changes to the coaching staff, so the team still has a solid foundation.
Hamill also said, “ We graduated 10 seniors last May and with just two returning starters. It’s a whole new team. It is both a challenge and an exciting time to rebuild the team again and start a new era.”
The Bulldogs started their season with a pair of games in Winter Park, FL on Thursday, Aug. 30 and Saturday, Sept. 1. The first match against Rollins ended up as a loss for the Bulldogs, with a score of 1-2. However, the game on Saturday against St. Leo was quite impressive, with strong offensive plays in the first half that led the Bulldogs to take their first victory of the season, with a final score of 3-2.
Wingate then returned home for two games. The first game of the year at Pride Park was played on Wednesday, Sept. 5 and the Bulldogs tied Chowan, 0-0. The second game was on Saturday, September 8th and Wingate defeated Flagler 4-1, as junior forward Elliot Curtis led the way with a goal and an assist.
Wingate is back in action Wednesday, Sept. 12 opening up SAC play against Mars Hill at 7:30 pm at Pride Park.
Edited by Brendan Shriver