High School Sports

This season’s finest: Akerblom becoming a game-changer for Providence soccer team

Clement Akerblom, Providence Soccer
Clement Akerblom, Providence Soccer

Clement Akerblom, Providence Soccer: Clement Akerblom and his family moved from Sweden to Charlotte on July 26, arriving at their new home just 12 days before the Providence soccer team would hold tryouts.

Akerblom, 18, was born in Virginia and lived in Connecticut until he was 10 years old, but lived in Sweden for the last eight years.

When his father, Fredrik, recently got a job with Charlotte Latin as its director of development, the Akerblom family, including his mother, Tanja, Clement and his five younger siblings made the move to Charlotte.

While Clement Akerblom was busy get used to life in a new country, one of his first priorities was to play soccer.

Akerblom last played for the Uppsala IF club team in Sweden, but had never played for high school, because Swedish schools don’t have athletic teams.

When he found out his new high school, Providence, had a good soccer tradition, he was excited about the opportunity.

But first, he had to make the team.

“I felt confident in myself and went out in tryouts and just did what I’m good at and play my game,” said Akerblom, noting the U.S. high school soccer game is much more physical than he was accustomed to. “I’ve never felt the passion that you have playing for your high school, because I haven’t played for my school. I take a lot of pride in playing for my school already.”

Providence soccer coach, Nicolas Sosa, who was hired as the new Panthers’ leader about the same time Akerblom arrived in the U.S. noticed his new player from the first day of tryouts.

“The first time I saw Clement, I knew he was a player because no one could take the ball from him, he was just great on the ball, and he hit the ball like no other high school player I’ve seen,” said Sosa, no stranger to international soccer after being signed professionally by Club Nacional in Uruguay out of South Mecklenburg High. “I knew that first day he was my best player, I said to myself I just found my No. 10. That was my number when I played and it was cool that Clement decided to pick that number, too.”

While it took him a game or two to get used to a new style of play, Akerblom has wasted no time living up to coach Sosa’s billing as the center midfield scored four goals and has three assists in his last three games.

Akerblom had one of his biggest moments in a Providence uniform Aug. 29 at Myers Park, when he netted the game-winning goal with just 15 minutes left to give the Panthers a 1-0 victory. Two days later, the 5-10, 155-pound, center midfielder had a goal and an assist in a 3-1 victory at Lincoln Charter. Akerblom also had a big game against his father’s new school, Charlotte Latin, scoring two goals and dishing out an assist, Aug. 24.

Akerblom leads the Panthers with four goals and five assists this season.

While Akerblom has enjoyed his individual success, he admits he is all about the Providence team, who is unbeaten at 5-0-1 with victories over Charlotte Catholic, Charlotte Latin, East Meck and Myers Park already to their credit.

Providence’s success has earned them strong rankings, as No. 11 in the country and No. 3 in the state, according to maxpreps.com.

A.J. Whisenant, Hough Soccer: The Hough senior forward had three goals and an assist in leading the Huskies to two, big road wins last week.

Whisenant, a two-time all-state pick, had three goals in the Hough’s 7-4 win at Cox Mill, Aug. 28, then dished out a critical assist in the Huskies’ 4-3 win at Ardrey Kell, Aug. 31.

Whisenant now has scored 63 goals in his Hough soccer career.

Steven Wilkinson, South Mecklenburg Soccer: The South Mecklenburg senior defender (left back) made big offensive contributions with two assists in the Sabres’ 4-0 victory at Cuthbertson, Aug. 29.

Wilkinson also helped the Sabre defense to record their third consecutive shutout.

Wilkinson, who leads the Sabres (3-2) with four assists, has at least one assist in each of South Meck’s three straight victories after a 0-2 start.

Drake Bowen, Woodlawn School Soccer: The Woodlawn School freshman has eight goals in three games in the last week for the Trailblazers (3-2).

Bowen had three goals in Woodlawn School’s 5-1 win over Liberty Prep Christian, Aug. 29, adding a goal and an assist two days later in a 5-0 victory over Victory Christian.

Bowen, who has nine goals and three assists this season, also had four scores in Woodlawn School’s 7-0 win over Langtree Academy, Aug. 25.

Seth Frederick, Christ the King Football: The Christ the King senior has done a little bit of everything for his Crusader team lining up at quarterback, wide receiver, safety, linebacker, defensive end, punter and kicker in the first three games this season.

Frederick had another strong game Sept. 1, recording averaging 43 yards per punt (five punts) with a long of 60 yards, while also making five tackles and catching one pass for 26 yards in their 45-0 loss to Pine Lake Prep.

Frederick, who also plays club soccer for Charlotte Soccer Academy, has 24 tackles, four catches for 56 yards, five carries for 64 yards, a 36-yard field goal and three extra points this season.

Jacolbe Cowan, Providence Day Football: The 6-foot-5, 250-pound, Providence Day sophomore defensive end was a Preseason All-American and “is living up to the hype,” according to Chargers’ football coach, Adam Hastings.

Cowan, who has offers from multiple major, Division I programs, was a game-changer in Providence Day’s 19-14 win at Andrew Jackson, South Carolina, Sept. 1 recording six tackles, two tackles for loss and two sacks.

Cowan’s sack on fourth-down with less than a minute to play, helped the Chargers clinch the victory.

Cowan has 22 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles for Providence Day (2-1) this season.

Cannon School Girls’ Golf Team: The Cannon School girls’ golf team won the Gaston Christian Invitational at Pine Island Country Club for the second year in a row, Aug. 28.

The Cougars were dominant winning the even by 34 shots.

Cannon School freshman, Amanda Sambach, led the way shooting a 70, tied for second, while juniors, Muskan Uppal shot 72 for sixth place and Elena Jacoby posted a 76 for a tie for ninth).

Jacoby’s 76 was her best score in 18-hole high school match, while her front-nine, 35, was also a personal best for Cannon School. Jacoby is a college golf prospect, according to Cannon School coach Pat Whisenant.

Nicole Kramer, Ardrey Kell Girls’ Golf: The Ardrey Kell senior shot an even par 36 to earn medalist in the Knights’ season opening match against Marvin Ridge at Ballantyne Country Club on Aug. 30.

Kramer, who had seven pars and one birdie in her nine holes, holed out from a bunker on third shot on the par-four, 1st hole.

The Ardrey Kell and Marvin Ridge teams tied, as each shot 124 in team scores.

Kelley Topiwala, Carmel Christian Girls’ Golf: The Carmel Christian sophomore had four birdies in route to a one-under par, 70, to finish tied for 2nd-place in the 45-player, Gaston Christian Invitational tournament.

Topiwala is averaging a 36.25 per round in her first three matches this season.

Topiwala helped start the Carmel Christian girls’ golf team as a one-woman squad last year.

Annabelle Millard, Metrolina Christian Girls’ Golf: The 13-year old, Metrolina Christian, eighth-grader became the first female to play in a high school in school history, firing an 82 (40-42) at the Gaston Christian Invitational to finish 13th overall.

Millard is a one-woman team at Metrolina Christian, but also plays junior golf primarily on the Peggy Kirk Bell Tour.

Myers Park Girls’ Tennis Team: Coach Ed Flynn and the Myers Park girls’ tennis team had another perfect week, beating rivals, South Mecklenburg and Butler on consecutive days to win their 28th straight match.

The Mustangs, 7-0 this season, have also won 60 of their last 62 matches dating back to the start of the 2014 season, including the 2016, 4A state championship.

Myers Park beat South Mecklenburg 8-1 on Aug. 28, turning around to blank Butler, 9-0, the next day.

Jenna Thompson, South Mecklenburg Girls’ Tennis: The South Mecklenburg sophomore is still a perfect 25-0 in singles’ play in her Sabre career without having lost a set in that span.

Thompson won her singles matches against Ardrey Kell and Myers Park on back-to-back days, Aug. 28 and 29, both in straight sets.

Thompson is also a standout on the USTA junior circuit, where she is ranked No. 1 in the state, No. 12 in the Southeast and No. 33 in the nation in her age group, according to tennisrecruiting.net.

Emma Hallock, Charlotte Latin Volleyball: The Charlotte Latin junior led the Hawks to victories over Metrolina Christian and West Stanly.

Hallock had 15 kills, 24 digs and four aces in the Hawks’ 3-1 home victory over Metrolina Christian on Aug. 28.

Three days later, she had nine kills, 11 digs and four aces in Latin’s 3-0 sweep at West Stanly.

Hallock has 68 kills, 85 digs and 11 aces for Charlotte Latin (2-3) this season.

Russell Engle and Sarah Parrish, Providence Cross Country: The Panther seniors both ran personal-best 5,000-meter times at the season-opening, Providence Invitational at McAlpine Creek Park on Aug. 26.

Engle ran a personal-record 16:11.89 to finish fifth-place overall.

Parrish also ran her best time of Providence cross country career, posting an 18:53.59 to finish fifth-place at the same event.

Ellie McIntyre and Ajani Williams, Charlotte Country Day Cross Country: The Charlotte Country Day senior duo had strong starts to their cross country seasons at the first CISAA conference meet of the year.

McIntyre, a Bucs’ captain, ran her personal-best 21:45.71 to finish as runner-up at the event. The Bucs’ girls’ team also finished 2nd overall

Meanwhile, Williams won the CISAA varsity boys’ championship race at the same meet, running a 17:35.65 to lead the Country boys’ team to a victory as well.

Toni Pineda, Statesville Soccer: The all-state, Statesville senior forward had seven goals and three assists in Greyhound victories over Lake Norman Charter and St. Stephens.

Pineda started his week with four goals and an assist in a 7-0 win over St. Stephens on Aug. 28.

Two days later, he added three more scores and two assists in a 6-3 victory over Lake Norman Charter.

Pineda – who has interest from several college soccer teams including Appalachian State, Michigan State, Presbyterian and UNC Greensboro according to Statesville coach, Eric Hanson – has 65 goals and 35 assists in his Greyhound career to date.

Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: edwardswork23@gmail.com.


This season’s finest highlights high school athletes with outstanding performances. Information published today includes statistics through Sept. 4. In most cases, the athletes featured will come from sports that don’t get a lot of recognition. However, the goal is to recognize excellence. If you want to suggest someone to be included in This Season’s Finest column, send email to Jay Edwards at edwardswork23@gmail.com. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.

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