Reed Hunnicutt and the South Mecklenburg boys’ soccer team had a dream season a year ago. The Sabres went unbeaten (23-0-2) and won their first boys soccer championship in 44 years.
South Mecklenburg was dominant the entire season, outscoring their opponents 124-12, allowing only one goal in their six-game playoff run.
Now, in 2016, the challenge is to do it all over again.
With five starters back, led by seniors in Hunnicutt, Ethan DeSilva, Fernando Garcia, Alec Hartman and Collyn Carpenter, Sabres coach Eric White feels good about his chances, but he knows it’s a whole different season.
"This team (2016 team) knows that last year was last year," White said. "We have to find a whole new identity for this year’s team. But make no mistake, we 100 percent believe we can have the same type of success, but it’s going to be a lot tougher. We are going to have to have our ‘A’ game every night."
"This year is going to be tougher," Hunnicutt said. "We are confident, but we also know we will have our target on our backs in every game."
Charlotte Observer Boys’ Soccer Preview
Name: Reed Hunnicutt
School/Class: South Mecklenburg senior
Sport: Boys’ Soccer
2015 Soccer Stats: 10 goals, 22 assists.
Why Him?: South Meck’s all-state senior proved he was a major playmaker last year with 10 goals and 22 assists as an outside midfielder. This Appalachian State signee should get even more opportunities to make game-changing plays as he will likely see time at forward and in the central midfield as well. Hunnicutt will play in play in Boys’ High School All-American game in December in Raleigh.
Charlotte Observer Boys’ Soccer Players to Watch
Ethan DeSilva, South Mecklenburg, Sr.: Sabres’ standout was one of the best offensive/defensive threats in the state, scoring 10 goals, dishing out 15 assists, while also being a major force on a Sabre defense that allowed 12 goals in 25 games. DeSilva and South had 17 shutouts.
Michael Davidson, Weddington, Sr.: Warriors’ forward is the most dangerous returning player (19 goals last year) for the 3A defending state champions.
Jordy Briceno, Ashbrook, Sr.: The Big South conference player of the year and all-state forward was scoring machine with 46 goals in 2015. Briceno led his team to the 3A state quarterfinals, and will be shooting to be even better this season. Will also play in boys’ high school All-American game in December.
Giovanni Fanara, Charlotte Country Day, Sr.: Reigning all-state, CISAA player of the year looks to lead 2015 state runner-up Bucs back to the state championship game.
Sam Wlodyka, Providence, Sr.: Panthers’ senior captain, central defender/midfielder can be equally as effective as a defensive stopper or going forward into the offensive attack, according to Providence coach Nathan Williams.
Charlotte Observer Boys’ Soccer Teams to Watch
South Mecklenburg: The 4A defending state champions have the talent returning (five starters back) to make another title run but know the task of repeating won’t be easy.
Weddington: Like South Meck, the defending 3A state champions were dominant in 2015 (outscored opponents 101-16), but must reload to make another championship run in 2016.
Providence: The Panthers’ were one win away from playing in the 4A state championship game (1-0 loss to South Meck in semifinals)
Hough: Coach David Smith and Huskies have become a perennial state contender and with the potent, offensive combination of forwards, Evan Ashbrook (19 goals, MECKA 4A player of the year; will play in boys’ high school All-American game) and A.J. Whisenant (14 goals, 16 assists) they should be a big factor again.
Mallard Creek: The Mavericks had a breakout season a year ago, tying Hough for the MECKA 4A conference title, while winning their first playoff game. This year, the Mavericks look to be even better, with a team that includes players from 10 different countries on four different continents, led by seniors, Dondre Hillocks and Brody Poell as well as sophomore Alfredo Herrera.
Myers Park: Coach Bucky McCarley had made a tradition of getting the most of out of his teams, and Mustangs should right in the thick of the top teams in the state again with senior central midfielder Gabe Kasten, leading the way.