Laurel soccer teams improvement culminates with Henlopen South title clinching victory

By Mike McClure

When Josh Scotton was hired as a physical education teacher at Laurel High School, he was asked to coach the schools varsity boys soccer team. During his three years on the job, the Delmar grad has plenty of opportuni.ties to notice all of the schools ban.ners in the gym. Every sport was repre.sented except soccer. That changed last Wednesday night when Laurel topped Indian River, 4-2, to win the Henlopen Conference title (see game story on page 37).

Our goal from last spring was to put up a banner. Laurel has a banner up for every sport but soccer, said Scotton. Its incredible. When I came here three years ago I never thought this would happen. In three years this group has scrapped and worked. Theyre like a tight knit family. Im just glad they got a chance to do this.

We came a long way with a lot of hard work, added sophomore goalie Jailon Gillespie.

Senior Craig Rice remembers his freshman season, when the team did not win a game. The next year the team improved to 5-9-1 and last year Laurel went 9-6, just missing the state tournament while earning the most wins in the programs history. With the win over Indian River the Bulldogs moved to 6-1 in the Henlopen South and 12-2 overall, earning the second seed in the Division II state tournament and the Henlopen South championship.

We saw immediate improvement as soon as he started working with this group of kids, Laurel Athletic Director Jerry Mears said. You could see that something special was being formed here.

They are a great group of kids. They have their good days and their bad days but there are a heck of a lot more good days. Now they know they can win a state championship after beating a team like Indian River.

Scottons main task when he took over as head coach was to find enough play.ers to field a varsity team. He was able to recruit athletes he came across in gym class and also asked his players to get their friends to come out for the team. Now the Bulldogs even have a JV team.

I was just trying to find anyone to come out my first year, said Scotton. Weve come a long way in a short time. Its all on the kids. They encouraged their friends to come out.

With how were doing now, people want to play (with us), Rice said. Theyve (coaches) motivated us, pushed us.

He (Scotton) just taught us a lot and hes been a big factor in us winning games, said Gillespie.

A large contingent of fans was on hand to support the Laurel soccer team last week. Scotton and the players appreciated the large crowd, which was close to the size the Bulldog football team gets for its home contests.

They played their hearts out tonight. They just were not going to be denied, Mears said. People came out and sup.ported them and it was just great to see.

We had incredible support, said Scotton.

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