Patriots Select Saleeby to Lead Boys' Soccer
As Evan Saleeby begins working his first official practices this week, the new head boys’ soccer coach at Pinecrest knows expectations are very high.
The 28-year-old former UNC Pembroke player from Rocky Mount, Va., takes over for Todd Abbey, who stepped down after leading the team to three East regional championship matches in a row and a three-year record of 58-14-5.
A civics teacher at Pinecrest, Saleeby led the Patriot junior varsity team to a record of 14-0 last fall. After his graduation from UNC Pembroke in 2006, he was an assistant soccer coach and social studies teacher at Hoke County before coming to Pinecrest.
“There is a lot of pressure, but you have to like the pressure,” Saleeby says of the soccer program’s legacy, which also includes 15 conference titles in a row. “It’s a good situation to come into where 95 percent of the kids are in club soccer. They play year-round and are dedicated to it. You couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
Saleeby played at Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount (near Roanoke) before going on to play for four years at UNC Pembroke. He currently coaches an 11-and-under boys’ club team at AC Sandhills, where Abbey is the executive director.
He describes his style of soccer and coaching as similar to that of the man he replaced.
“I would say I’m in the Todd Abbey school,” he says. “I’m kind of laid back. I’m not someone who is going to be up screaming at the refs or yelling at the players. I like possession soccer, and I like attacking soccer. That’s what we’re going to focus on this year.”
Saleeby calls it a rebuilding year because of the graduation of 16 players from last year’s team that finished the season ranked third in the state among 4-A schools.
“Most of the team will be made up of the jayvee players from last year,” he says. “They’re familiar with my coaching style and personality and I’m familiar with theirs.”
Steve Tarr, who also coaches a team for AC Sandhills, will be the new jayvee coach. Athletics director Ernie Purnsley is confident the program is in good hands.
“Evan is very solid, very knowledgeable about the game and has a great relationship with the players,” Purnsley says. “He coached those jayvee players last year and they were very successful.
“We look forward to him building on what Todd Abbey did in previous years and hopefully have us in the state championship.”
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