Experienced Polio excited to lead youthful Warriors

Sherando's Max Polio will be leaned on to lead the way for the boys soccer team this season. The senior is the top returning scorer for the Warriors. Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY- Max Polio is taking advantage of his experience this season.

The Sherando boys soccer player said that during his freshman year he learned a lot from 2014 Sherando graduates Tommy Buono and Andrew Wade, and then the last two years from their brothers Sean Buono and Seth Wade, who are 2017 Sherando graduates.

“Now in my senior year I’m trying to put what I learned together and trying to be a good role model for all these young players that are here,” Polio said.

The Warriors have a young squad this season, with four freshman and two sophomores.

Sherando coach Pat Anderson said that Polio doesn’t have to be vocal to lead the team.

“He doesn’t say a whole lot, but through his actions he does, and these guys follow suit with him,” Anderson said.

In his freshman year, Polio said he was in awe of Tommy Buono and Andrew Wade, who were Sherando’s top two scorers. He said he tried to learn as much as he could from the pair. The following year he said he tried to learn as much as he could from Sean Buono and Seth Wade. Polio said he still stays in touch with all four of them and they all train together over the summer.

Last year, while teams were focusing at times on slowing down Sean Buono and Seth Wade, Polio was able to take advantage and give the Warriors a boost with eight goals and nine assists.

“(Sean Buono and Seth Wade) were two good players,” Polio said. “They kind of taught me some things. So from what they taught me I just tried to apply that and step up for them when they couldn’t do what they needed to do.”

Polio said that when he was younger, his father influenced him as well as one of his friends, Renzo Blasutto, who is also a senior on Sherando’s team this season, to play soccer.

Polio said that once he started playing, he fell in love with the sport.

“I love that soccer itself is so unpredictable that anything can happen and anything can work,” Polio said. “A small team could end up beating a big team for an upset. Anything can happen. It’s really unpredictable.”

Polio, who has played travel soccer since he was in sixth grade, plays for the Virginia Soccer Association, based out of Haymarket. He said that playing for them has helped his game.

“Travel and high school teams are two different things,” he said. “And I think playing both has just really helped me. Travel is more like a technical game, and high school is more physical. So those two just help me. Both kind of build my play up and help me become a better player.”

Anderson said he wants to take advantage of Polio’s leadership and ability to control the pace of the game so he will be playing at center-midfield mostly this season.

Anderson said he’s been happy with Polio’s improvement over the last few seasons, especially his ability to get rid of the ball quickly.

“When he was younger, he would hold onto it a little too long, which would get him in trouble sometimes,” Anderson said.

Polio said that he has committed to play soccer for Division III North Carolina Wesleyan College, located in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, in the fall.

He said he also was considering Ferrum College, but North Carolina Wesleyan just seemed like a better fit.

“When I arrived (at North Carolina Wesleyan) for a visit I could tell the passion of the game, soccer, was there,” Polio said. “And it was just a great group of guys on the team. The coach was really cool with me, and he was honest with me. So it just felt like home down there.”

The Warriors have played only one match this season due to the weather, but Polio said that he’s been impressed with what he’s seen from the squad.

“We’re really young like compared to last year. We lost a lot of seniors,” Polio said. “I think this year we’re young, but we’re not totally lost. Everyone knows what they’re doing There’s players like (freshman) Ethan Laing, he’s playing in France (for the state Olympic Development Program team for 10 days). So we have players that can step up.”