Got Their Back: Defender Hayes Leads Vikings
Before the season Union Pines head soccer coach Jeremy Blake asked Brian Hayes to make a major sacrifice for the good of the team by playing a center fullback to shore up the Vike defensive.
Hayes, a senior, who earned all-conference and all-region honors as a midfielder last year, made the switch.
"Coach Blake came up and told me he was hoping I would run the back (line) for him." said Hayes. "He felt like I could really take control back there and stop any scoring threats that opposing teams have. That way we can really focus on scoring one or two goals (a game) to get wins."
After a big 1-0 win against defending Cape Fear Valley champions Harnett Central, the Vikes are 3-0 in league play and in first place. Overall, the Vikes are 6-1 on the year and have three shutout wins.
Hayes has been the big reason for the success, and now admits making the move wasn't easy.
"I was not thrilled with Blake's proposition at first," Hayes admitted, "because this is my fourth year and I was sort of hoping to get the chance to score some goals and lead the team up front. However, as the season started I realized I am a leader in a different way. My role is just as important if not more important than scoring goals.
"I have come to embrace that fact now and have fun with it. Our back four is really unified on and off the field. We work well as a unit and are really having a good time."
The Vikings have three shutout wins and have allowed five goals in seven games while scoring 19. The most goals a team has scored on Union Pines is two, in its sole loss of the season.
Blake feels Hayes has stepped up and realized that Union Pines needs him back there and that this is how he could best help his team.
"Brian was willing to suck it up and make that sacrifice to move to the back," said Blake. "He has the experience and talent to come back and play that crucial position for us."
Last year's Viking team (2007) was coming off a 23-2-2 season in which they made it to the third round of the state playoffs and finished the year as the 8th ranked 3A team in the state. As the 2007 campaign began the Vikes struggled with consistency and finished second in the Cape Fear Valley conference, before being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
That Union Pines team was stocked with experience and talent. Seniors Dalton Hadlock (M/F, all-time Vike leading scorer, three time all-state performer) and Travis Frazier (Keeper, NCHSAA all-time career shutout leader and all-region honoree) lead the unit. Palmer Boles was another all-region player the team lost to graduation, along with Drew Klalo and others.
So as this season started, there were many questions concerning how well the 2008 Vikes would play.
Hayes feels what the Vikes lack this year in individual talent and experience, they make up for in more important areas.
"This year we have a lot of unity, which helps us out on the field," said Hayes. "We are a team and a family and a brotherhood and it is a lot different from last year. I feel like we were lacking in some senior leadership last season, and we really have a lot of that going on this year."
Hayes credited goalie Aaron Moore and seniors Jacob Wilson and Christian Forest as team leaders.
Wilson, a midfielder, considers Hayes to be a natural leader on and off the pitch.
"Brian is very vocal and helpful on the field." said Wilson. "He gets stuck in well on every play, gives no quarter and never lets us down. This year we seem to have more heart. Last year we may have had more individual talent but as a team we play better together than we ever had at Union Pines, so our expectations have not really changed, we still expect to do really well."
All of the Union Pines' seniors got together before the season and discussed their goals for the 2008 squad.
"We are hoping to be conference champions," Hayes said, "and we want to go as far in the playoffs as Union Pines has ever gone, which will be the fourth round. Obviously we are hoping to beat Pinecrest as well. I think a lot of people have counted us out this year. They looked at the senior class that left last year and say 'there went Union Pines soccer' but we as a senior class wanted to make the point that it is not over. We still have a legacy to fulfill and our own history to write and that is what we are out to do."
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