• The 2018-2019 Blue Ridge Early College boys soccer team includes, front, from left, Joseph Madden, Phillip Arnst, Colton Taylor, Korbin Walters, Jacob Pressler, Alexi Helvert, Wyatt Foss, Julion Martinez, Luke Breedlove, Yurem Corona, Kaleb Fugate, Jason Perez; and back, same order, Coach Nick Pressler, Noah Pressler, Dylan McCall, Braden Collins, Jonathon Jennings, Levi Taylor, Carter Ferrin, Stephen Madden, Michael Martinez and Assistant Coach Brittany Elkins. (Photo by Dan Brown.)
    The 2018-2019 Blue Ridge Early College boys soccer team includes, front, from left, Joseph Madden, Phillip Arnst, Colton Taylor, Korbin Walters, Jacob Pressler, Alexi Helvert, Wyatt Foss, Julion Martinez, Luke Breedlove, Yurem Corona, Kaleb Fugate, Jason Perez; and back, same order, Coach Nick Pressler, Noah Pressler, Dylan McCall, Braden Collins, Jonathon Jennings, Levi Taylor, Carter Ferrin, Stephen Madden, Michael Martinez and Assistant Coach Brittany Elkins. (Photo by Dan Brown.)

Blue Ridge soccer boys seek conference banner

Fall Sports Preview

By Dan Brown / Staff

CASHIERS -- The Blue Ridge Early College soccer team has lofty ambitions in regard to the 2018 season, especially when it comes to the Little Smoky Mountain Conference standings.

The Bobcats would like to see themselves somewhere near the top of that heap, according to first-year Coach Nick Pressler.

The Bobcats got the season off on the right track with wins over Asheville Independent School and Rabun Gap, by 5-3 and 5-1 scores respectively.

“We need to be playing games,” Pressler said. “I always try to schedule non-conference opponents in the first three games so we can get acclimated to playing soccer.”

Pressler, along with first-year assistant coach Brittany Elkins, will be relying heavily on senior leadership, experienced or not, with five seniors on the squad, and three seniors returning from last year’s team. The Bobcats roster rounds out with five returning juniors, six returning sophomores, and two new incoming freshmen. There are 20 players total comprising the Bobcats roster, a good number Pressler said.

“You need depth,” he said. “You can’t survive in soccer with anything less.”

Tri-Captains Noah Pressler and Carter Ferrin, both seniors, and sophomore Jacob Pressler, anchor a team with a nice mix between youth and experience. Levi Taylor, Dylan McCall and Phillip Arnst will also be heavily relied upon for leadership on and off the field.

Last year, the Bobcats finished with an 11-8 overall record, with a 9-3 mark in the Little Smoky Mountain Conference, which was good for a second-place tie with Hayesville. BREC fell to Pine Lake Prep 9-0 in the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletics Association Class 1A state tournament.

This year, the Bobcats seek to improve their fortunes, according to Pressler.

“Everybody is going to be good, but we are going to be good also. If we play like I think we’re capable of playing, I don’t expect us to lose.”

The Bobcats clearly have their sights set on raising a LSMC conference banner this fall.

The BREC schedule is abbreviated this fall with only 13 games slated so far. Two LSMC teams Tri-County Early College and Andrews could not field a team due to a lack of players.

“School population, especially with us smaller schools, makes it a challenge to field teams in all sports. Last year, we got blown out by one of the top teams in the state because we only had 14 players and by the second half, we were out of gas.”

The big date on the calendar is Sept. 12, when the Bobcats make the trip across the Cashiers-Highlands plateau on U.S. Highway 64 to Highlands to take on the defending LSMC champions Highlanders.

“Highlands is always a big game for us,” Pressler said. “They are the champs and in order to be the champ you have to beat the champ. We’re looking forward to that game.”

The Highlanders will travel across the Cashiers-Highlands plateau to Blue Ridge for a return matchup on Oct. 8.

Pressler said his goal is for his players to excel, two of whom are his sons, Noah Pressler, a senior, and Jacob Pressler, a sophomore, both tri-captains along with Carter Ferrin.

“It was an open vote among the team,” he said. “And their names came up.”

Pressler said Ferrin and Noah were both quiet and reserved. Jacob is more boisterous.

“Jacob is more my vocal leader on the field,” Pressler said.

New in the goal box is Taylor, a dominating force on the basketball court, but a potentially equally dominating force on the soccer field.

“Levi is a beast. He’s 6’5”. He’s all over the box. He will be tough to score on.”

Because of the mix of youth, Pressler is going to concentrate on making the game more of a group effort this year.

“We’re going to rely a lot on the seniors for leadership, but we want to spread it around and bring the young guys up,” he said. “We still have a lot of room for improvement on the field but I’m happy where we are going.”

The Blue Ridge Bobcats soccer team are includes Noah Pressler, Carter Ferrin, Levi Taylor, Dylan McCall, Phillip Arnst, Colton Taylor, Jonathon Jennings, Luke Breedlove, Yurem Corona, Julio Martinez, Jacob Pressler, Alexis Helvert, Kaleb Fugate, Korbin Walters, Braden Collins, Joseph Madden, Jason Perez, Stephen Madden, Wyatt Foss and Michael Martinez.

There had been talk of launching a Blue Ridge girls soccer team this year, but as of press time, there is no girls soccer at Blue Ridge.

2018-2019 BLUE RIDGE BOYS SOCCER SCHEDULE

4 p.m. Sept. 10 -- Blue Ridge hosts Murphy.

6 p.m. Sept. 12 -- Blue Ridge visits Highlands.

6 p.m. Sept. 19 -- Blue Ridge visits Swain County.

4 p.m. Sept. 24 -- Blue Ridge hosts Cherokee.

6 p.m. Sept. 26 -- Blue Ridge visits Hayesville.

6 p.m. Oct. 3 -- Blue Ridge visits Murphy.

4 p.m. Oct. 8 -- Blue Ridge hosts Highlands.

4 p.m. Oct. 15 -- Blue Ridge hosts Swain County.

4 p.m. Oct. 22 -- Blue Ridge hosts Hayesville.

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