by Aaron Garcia
By early September, the Cuthbertson High boys soccer team must’ve had an inkling that a fair amount of success was in store. With a 6-0 record, the Cavaliers had already defeated some pretty good teams. But beating a Class 4A power such as Porter Ridge was a different story. And early in their Sept. 2 match, it hardly looked like they could compete with the Pirates. Porter Ridge controlled the pace and frequently threatened to pull away with several offensive opportunities.
Midway through the second half, the Pirates earned a penalty kick, which often means a free goal.
But not against Cuthbertson keeper Trent Johnson, who rebuffed the Pirates’ shot and effectively gave his team the mental edge in the contest.
“That swung the momentum of the game right there,” said Cuthbertson coach Nelson Garner. “Our guys got inspired, and it gave them some confidence.”
When the scoreboard clock hit zero, the Cavs had earned a 2-0 win.
“I think that game really helped our guys believe that we’re as good as anybody in the county,” said Garner. “That really set the tone for the season.”
But that play was indicative of Johnson’s season. The senior logged 17.5 shutouts and led the Cavaliers to a 21-1-1 record, which included a trip to the third round of the 2A playoffs. Johnson recorded two shutouts to start the postseason before the Cavs fell to Lincolnton, 3-1. Furthermore, he added three goals from the field, including a 60-yard free kick. As a result of his strong play, Johnson was named to the N.C Soccer Coaches Association 2A All-State team.
Now, he can add Union County Weekly’s 2010 Boys Soccer Player of the Year to his list of accolades.
It helped that Johnson, who’s committed to Furman University, never pigeonholed himself as simply a goalie.
“If you talk to most goalies, they’ll tell you the same thing – that we’re probably the best soccer players out there,” said Johnson with a laugh. “It’s just a thing we have, so I think that helped me out some.”
Garner said Johnson’s comment shouldn’t be misconstrued as cockiness.
“For all the accolades he’s received, he’s extremely humble,” said the coach. “He doesn’t think too highly of himself. He loves to be on the field with the guys and he works so hard. He doesn’t expect anything to be given to him.”
According to Garner, Johnson’s presence provided the perfect fail-safe.
“He gave our defense a certain confidence to play because they knew he was helping them,” Garner said. “You can get out of a tight situation with him back there.”
And as the Cavs learned during the 2010 season, that’s something that can fuel an entire season.