This time last season, the Smyrna High School boys soccer team had just two victories through their first nine games, on their way to a 3-12 overall record.
More than halfway through the 2017 campaign, the Eagles have already made positive strides as a team and tangible improvements in the win-loss column.
Entering this week, Smyrna had a winning mark of 5-4-1 overall, already surpassing last year’s win total with five games left.
The team has also improved in the statistics department on both ends of the field. Last season, the Eagles scored just 17 goals on offense while giving up 36 goals. Entering Monday’s contest against Milford, they had found the back of the net 19 times and given up just 20 goals through 10 games.
Seniors have set the example with their play, led by a roster that includes Abdul Musa between the pipes and Cornelius Yancy, Dakota Kerr, Roman Kolakoswki, Brendon Donaghue, Kareem Ekanem and Jeffrey Turner.
“All of them play an important role on the team,” said Smyrna head coach Adam Martin.
While Kerr and Yancey have scored nearly half of the Eagles’ goals this season combined, Smyrna has seen a number of underclassmen showcase their skills as well.
Juniors Dylan Chi, Fitzgerald Freeman, Nicholas Taylor, Andrew Zlock and Albert Toe have all contributed along with sophomores Emmanuel Freeman and Iverson Orzoco-Lopez.
“We have some underclassmen stepping up into important roles and looking to take those starting roster spots. We have freshman and sophomores that have been contributing and will only improve as we grow together,” Martin said. “I strongly believe the success is due to the team’s hard work and knowledge of the team’s formation. It’s our third year together and I’m hoping to build every year as long as the player keep returning each season.”
Down the home stretch, the Eagles trail Sussex Central 5-4 (4-4), Caesar Rodney 8-2 (6-1) and leader Cape Henlopen 11-1 (9-0) in the Henlopen Northern Division.
So far, Smyrna has defeated Concord, Woodbridge, Wilmington Friends, Sussex Academy and Polytech, with a tie against Dover. Losses have come against Sussex Tech, Cape Henlopen, Laurel and Caesar Rodney.
Home match Thursday
The Eagles hope to finish strong, taking on several conference opponents including a home matchup against Lake Forest on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m., followed by another home game Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 6 p.m., against Sussex Central. They finish up their schedule with a road contest at Middletown Thursday, Oct. 26 at 3:30 p.m., and then a home match against Dickinson on Senior Night, Tuesday, Oct. 31 at 6 p.m.
“We want to end the season on a high note and finish with some wins,” Martin said. “It won’t be easy, but the players are hungry.”