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Jaguars rebound, win conference title

042419-FC Soccer

Farmville Centra's Corinne Denham (Center) dribbles the ball upfield.

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By Jake Keator
the Daily Reflector

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

After struggling in its first two seasons of existence, the Farmville Central girls soccer team has climbed to the top of the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference, wrapping up a conference title on April 17 in just its third season.

Established in 2017, the Jaguars (11-4, 8-0 this season) went 1-33 over the course of their first two seasons, but not once quitting or feeling as if there was not a rise in their near future. 

Former head coach Matthew Passwater stepped aside before the beginning of the season, as he focused on the boys soccer program. David Boyd was brought in to help lead the growth of the young girls squad. 

Boyd came to Farmville from Atlanta, where he had spent six years coaching girls soccer, three with Chattahoochee High School and another three with Alpharetta High School.

The arrival to the small town was quite the change from the fast-paced style of the big city.

“It was definitely a cultural transformation,” Boyd said. “I enjoy Farmville. I like the close-knit, family-like atmosphere. It’s certainly not as fast-paced as Atlanta.”

He said the team has responded to his approach.

“As a team, we could slow down and focus on the small steps, rather than make a big jump to winning everything right now,” he said.

The Jaguars started 0-4 on the season, but that fourth loss, an 8-1 setback at home to Northside Jacksonville, sparked a change in the attitude of the team.

“We were losing 6-0 at halftime, and a player on the other team, quite vocally, said ‘three more goals and we get to go home,’” Boyd said. “I told the team that it should bother them to hear their opponent saying that — it means you aren’t playing as hard or as competitively as you can. We lost that game, but we played them 2-1 in the second half. We played completely different, we played hard.”

FC went on to win 11 straight games. The streak was a record not only for the program but for Boyd.

“That’s the longest winning streak of my coaching career,” he said. “I had some good teams in Atlanta, but this was the longest. I just appreciate the opportunity the girls gave me, because this season could have went a totally different way.”

The conference title proves that this young program has all the talent necessary to continue to be competitive in the future as well.

“The title gives the kids a new perspective on playing soccer,” Boyd said. “In the beginning of the season, I came in and made some changes, moved some players around and they looked at me and said, ‘I don’t play there coach.’ They weren’t as comfortable as they used to be, but they bought in and understand now. Soccer isn’t about the individual, it’s about the team, and they understand that if that is where they can be the most helpful that’s what they’ll do.”

Boyd praised his team for its resiliency and also gave credit to Passwater for his role in the program.

“I’m only 10 percent of the reason for the success,” Boyd said. “This has all been really humbling, and those girls worked so hard to accomplish this. I also have to give credit to coach Passwater. He did such a great job at starting the program and keeping the girls coming back, and kept it rolling even though they went 1-33. He really laid the foundation for success and kept the girls interested.”

FC has two regular season games remaining after wrapping up the regular season title. The Jags travel to face Beddingfield on April 30, followed by their finale on May 1, when they host senior night before facing North Johnston. 

Following the regular season, the squad will jump into the state playoffs, which kick off on May 7. Boyd said that he plans to keep everything the same, seeing no need to change anything after the team’s success. 

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter. 

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