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2018 Boys Soccer Coach of the Year: Burgwald helps turn Stonewall program around

Matt Burgwald

QUICKSBURG – Matt Burgwald accomplished a lot this season in his first year as Stonewall Jackson boys soccer coach. However, one of the things he was most proud of was bringing a community together.

Burgwald, who is also a Shenandoah County Soccer League travel coach, said he was very happy to see so many of his players from other schools show up to support his high school team this year.

“I was surprised at the support of the fans and the families,” Burgwald said. “The stands were genuinely full. The kids always had people cheering them regardless of home or away. And I was pleasantly surprised that the other athletes that are on the (travel) team from the other high schools started showing up to support the Stonewall team. And to me, that’s my best win because I think as a coach to have a really diverse crowd of parents from other schools to come to cheer us on and then the Stonewall parents also going to the other schools to cheer their teams on that is the ultimate success.”

Burgwald, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2018 Boys Soccer Coach of the Year, saw plenty of success on the field as well for his Generals. Stonewall Jackson went from just a few wins last year to a Region 1B title and a Class 1 state quarterfinal appearance.

The Generals finished third in the regular season in the Shenandoah District and were the Shenandoah District tournament runners-up. He said he was very happy to see the growth of his young team.

“Throughout the season the team really started to believe in each other,” Burgwald said. “They started to work better as a unit than as individual players. They managed to win against teams that they had not won against in a long time. So they started to get confidence. And I think that as I got to see the parents and the kids and the faculty have more smiles I knew that we were on the right track.”

Burgwald has been coaching soccer for a number of years. He has played a big role in the Shenandoah County Soccer League and is on the board and a longtime coach.

He also was an assistant coach at Central and the head men’s and women’s coach at Lord Fairfax Community College until the programs were dropped. Burgwald said that he had some players encourage him to apply for Stonewall Jackson’s head coach position last year, and when Generals assistant coach Marshall Howser also asked him to apply for it Burgwald decided to apply.

Burgwald said that Stonewall Jackson Athletic Director Mike Lenox was very helpful to him in making the transition easier.

Burgwald said that his travel program is very important to him and he’s excited that he has more players from Stonewall Jackson planning to play travel soccer. He said he’s very proud to see how much the travel soccer program has improved over the years.

“The soccer league was here before I was. Since I’ve started helping I’ve tried to make it better – the best that I can,” Burgwald said. “I know that I have managed to contribute a lot for the boys soccer throughout the county. It’s awesome for me to see kids from the (Shenandoah County) Maxx team play for Strasburg, Central, Stonewall Broadway, John Handley. I’m really proud of having a really good diverse group of kids.”

Burgwald said that the transition to coaching at Stonewall Jackson was easier because he already knew a lot of the kids and parents from the travel team.

“Through my experience with coaching the majority of them over the years through rec or travel they already knew me,” he said. “The parents already knew me. They kind of knew what to expect. But then doing a day to day practice routine they started to gain more knowledge, more confidence, and more drive because I am a blue collar gritty coach that wants the most out of his team that we can get. We’re not going to be a pushover team. We’re going to do the best we can to play a full 90 minutes as hard as possible.”

The Generals lost in the Class 1 state quarterfinals in a heartbreaker. They lost 3-2 to eventual state runners-up Rappahannock in a game that was decided on penalty kicks.

Burgwald said that it was still a great experience for his young team.

“The kids did not play the way that they should have played in their state game,” he said. “There was no reason they shouldn’t have advanced beyond what they did. It was a little bit frustrating. However, how cool is it that a Shenandoah County school made it that far when last year they only had a few wins. That’s fantastic for those kids.”