by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
ROLESVILLE — While some area soccer teams are enjoying successful seasons, the Rolesville High School Rams are still searching for their initial win.
And it didn’t come on September 25 against Knightdale High School when they were defeated by the Knights 9-1.
The inaugural season for the Rams has been a work in progress for both the players and coach James Overman.
But despite their 0-14 mark, the young team keeps battling and they hope that they will soon turn things around.
“We have grown a lot since day one,” Overman said. “The first few days of practice and even the first game or two of the season, a lot of our players didn’t even know what position they were supposed to be in on the field because they had never played soccer before.”
The Rams, playing at the varsity level in a tough Greater Neuse River Conference, are made up of 20 freshmen and sophomores because the school opened this year with just ninth and 10th grades.
Out of those 20, only 10 have actually played organized soccer. Some of the others experience with the sport has been in a physical education class and others had never even touched a soccer ball prior to playing at Rolesville.
“The main challenge with building a team from scratch is the differing levels of ability,” Overman said. “It has been hard to find things to do in practice that everyone can do.”
Some of the techniques in practice are complicated for the players just starting out. For the more advanced players, they end up not putting in much effort because learning the basic fundamentals are boring to them.
During practices, Overman said he splits the team up and gives them different activities to work on, according to their skills level of play.
While this year’s squad is laying the foundation for the program’s future, the results are about what anyone would expect in building a first year team.
The Rams have been shut out in all of their games, except for three this season.
Against Knightdale, the inexperience skill level might have shown on the field but Rolesville was not shy about playing aggressive and at attempting shots.
Shaphaun Parchue missed a close opportunity about a minute before halftime.
Paul Okeke though got the job done at the 33:02 mark in the second half, when he took the ball from about 15 yards out and his kick landed inside the net for the Rams third goal this season. He had had another chance six minutes later but the ball sailed to the right side of the net.
The Rams were also awarded two penalty kicks but were unable to capitalize.
“We started slow but I think we played hard for most of the game,” Overman said.
Hans Bierer, Rolesville’s freshman keeper, and one of the more experienced players on the team, had four saves in the second half.
Bierer, who is also a midfielder, plays club soccer for Wake Forest United and has emerged as one of the leaders for the Rams.
“This year has been a lot of going back to the basics but we are slowly getting better and better,” Bierer said. “We’re not going to be like this forever.”
“Our team goal this season is to win a game,” he added. “That would really give us motivation for next year.”
Bierer is a team captain along with Wes Pritzlaff. “They have both been leaders since day one when we only had eight players at tryouts,” Overman said.
A few other players have assumed a leadership role too, including Okeke, Jared Hendren and Israel Lockamy, according to Overman.
One thing Overman likes about his team is that they never give up.
“Even if we are losing to the point that it is obvious we don’t have time to come back, we keep fighting until the last whistle,” he said.
His players also have a positive attitude and Overman said it has not been hard to keep them motivated through a losing season.
“We come up with team goals before each game that involve things we need to work on,” he said. “So even if we lose, if we accomplish our goals for the game, we have something to be proud of and that keeps us motivated to improve.”
The Rams have six remaining games this season and their aim is to keep playing hard and keep improving.
“I’d like to see us start to limit the number of goals against us and keep possession of the ball for longer periods of time,” Overman said. “One thing I have tried to stress is for them to play the simple ball instead of trying to kick it really far down field because that usually results in us losing the ball.”
“But while there has been such a difference in talent level between some of the players, the overachieving goal is improvement,” Overman added.
The Rams will travel to East Wake on Monday and will return home Wednesday to play West Johnston. Both games have a 6:30 p.m. start.