CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- To return to the level South Charleston soccer was when current Coach Ronnie Means played for the Black Eagles in the early part of the 2000s, the team needed wins against top competition.
That is exactly what happened for South Charleston last week as the Black Eagles beat defending Class AAA state champion Hurricane 3-1.
Means said it was a big win against a team that had given the Black Eagles fits in recent seasons.
"Last year we were up 1-0 on Hurricane at the half and they scored two goals real quick to start the second half," Means said.
"It was a motivating factor Thursday."
Wins like that have become more common since Means took over the program five years ago. Last season the Black Eagles were one of the surprise teams in Class AAA with all five of their losses coming against "top five" teams in the state, according to Means. This season SC is back at it with a 7-3-1 record, with the losses coming against traditional powers George Washington, Charleston Catholic and Parkersburg.
One key to the Black Eagle success has been leadership along its back line.
Senior Devonyet Harris, a four year starter and a sweeper, along with junior Noah Riley, a second-year starter at outside fullback, are two of SC's captains and have showed why with their play on defense.
"(Harris) is a guy I can go to and talk to about getting the team ready to play. He's been a heck of a defender for us this year," Means said. "(Riley) has been a pleasant surprise as a captain. He does all the right things."
One of the big question marks entering this season for South Charleston was at goalkeeper. The Black Eagles lost four-year starter Hunter Moles, who now plays at WVU Tech, and were faced with breaking in junior Jacob Gordon.
"We were nervous at first," Means said. "We didn't know how he was gong to react. He's played pretty solid and made some tough saves."
South Charleston's most recently scheduled game, at Huntington last Saturday, was cancelled and has not yet been rescheduled. The Black Eagles will play host to St. Albans today at Trace Fork Soccer Complex.
THE BOYS AND girls high school soccer rankings for the week ending Sept. 21 were released Monday by the West Virginia High School Soccer Coaches Association.