Sherando continues string of success under Anderson

Pat Anderson

STEPHENS CITY – There will always be a sense of uncertainty amongst members of Sherando’s 2015 boys soccer team, a what-if scenario that will likely burn in the back of the minds of players, coaches and parents for years to come.

What would’ve happened if the Warriors had been allowed to complete the final 33 minutes of their Region 4A North quarterfinal match on the road at Charlottesville, a game Sherando lost 2-1 to end their season in bitter fashion after it was called due to persistent lightning?

The Warriors will never know because they were never given the chance.

“That’s what I don’t like is these kids will never [know] 10 years from now, 15, what could’ve been because, again, they had such great potential,” said longtime Sherando coach Pat Anderson, who appealed the ruling to the Virginia High School League but to no avail.

Two weeks after the game’s conclusion, it was still a sore subject with Sherando’s players. No one wanted to talk about what happened that night on June 1. But senior Tommy Buono probably spoke for every Warrior when he said that loss “definitely doesn’t describe our season.”

Throw out that tough defeat and the 2015 season brought with it many reasons for the Warriors to smile. Under the guidance of Anderson, Sherando, which finished the spring 14-4-2, went a perfect 8-0 against Northwestern District competition en route to its third district regular-season title in the last four seasons. The Warriors also made their third regional tournament appearance in that same span and had the best record in the Conference 21 regular-season race, earning the top seed in the conference tournament.

For all his work in guiding Sherando to continued success this past spring, Anderson has been named the Northern Virginia Daily’s 2015 Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.

Anderson, who also earned coach of the year honors in the Northwestern District and Conference 21, was quick to downplay his hand in Sherando’s success this season when discussing his postseason accolades following his 21st season as the Warriors’ varsity head coach.

“It’s pretty easy with this group,” he said of a Sherando squad that featured 11 seniors.

That veteran presence alone had the Warriors eager to see what they could accomplish on the field in 2015, but Anderson said the players took it upon themselves to make good on their optimism heading into the start of the spring season.

“We never put the cart before the horse though, that’s for sure,” Anderson said. “They were all showing up to preseason. There were all playing indoor. They were doing whatever they could do to get better leading up to the season.”

The Warriors opened the season by winning four of their first five matches, but then hit the first match of what Anderson said was a pivotal two-game stretch for his squad. In its match against Heritage (Leesburg) on April 9, Sherando surrendered five goals in what would end up as a 5-5 tie.

Anderson said the biggest coaching challenge he and his staff faced early in the season was shoring up an uncharacteristically unreliable defense, but that game served as “the biggest game changer for us to make us get better.”

“We weren’t very sound defensively as a unit. Individuals were, but we had to get the team concept going,” Anderson said of a defensive group that included seniors Jov Hall, Rhett Morris and Tyler Ferraro. “Once we got that after the Heritage game then you could see our score totals went down, our goals-against average went down. A lot of those things, we started controlling the game a little bit better so that was a plus for us.”

Two days later, the Warriors suffered their second loss of the season at home to Turner Ashby, 1-0. After that, Sherando went 11 straight games without a loss, a stretch that featured 10 wins including Conference 21 tournament victories over district rivals James Wood and Millbrook.

“If we had adversity they didn’t let it bother them,” Anderson said. “We got scored on first in games and they came back from it. … I just think those guys, they took it upon themselves and that’s what we tell them is that we can’t do it for you.”

The Warriors notched eight shutouts behind the work of senior goalkeeper Kevin Riley and averaged over 3.5 goals per game in 2015, but Anderson said the biggest strength of the Warriors was their work ethic. Sherando’s 11 seniors — led by the duo of Buono and Andrew Wade, who dismantled opposing defenses for 42 combined goals this spring — were the fuel behind it, he added.

“That’s what made it so special about that group of seniors is the leadership,” Anderson said. “They led and they’d kind of had a plan since they were freshmen. And they knew they had pretty good potential.”

Unfortunately for the Warriors, they will never quite know just how high that potential was.

“I’ll definitely miss this crew, though, because they never got to finish,” Anderson said. “It’s going to be that Al Bundy reunion where we come back and we’re like, ‘We just don’t know.'”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com