Despite losing seven seniors from his state championship soccer team, Joey Martin is optimistic about this season.
"They look good. They have a lot of potential," said Mr. Martin, coach of the Victory Christian School soccer team, which lost its season opener on Tuesday to Augusta's Alleluia Community School, 6-0.
Victory won the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools title in October by defeating Greenville's Westgate Christian School.
Martin is not fazed by the season-opening loss.
"Losing to a good team is not as painful as losing to a bad team," he said. "Alleluia is an excellent team."
Alleluia played with a precision he wants for his team, Mr. Martin said.
"We started out the summer with fundamentals," he said. "Alleluia is so fundamentally sound. They could see what we've been trying to push all summer."
In his second year as the team's coach, Mr. Martin has a lot of young, unseasoned players, some of whom had never played soccer until this year. As a result, he'll be relying on a few key players to lead on the field.
Matt Morris is the team's only senior.
On the offensive, Hadden Stallings will be one of the players Mr. Martin looks to.
"He has played many years," he said.
On defense, Ren Massey and goalie Jack Kenner will be vital to stopping the other teams.
The 18-member Victory Christian squad brings together students from both sides of the Savannah River. He has players from North Augusta, Aiken, Augusta and Evans, Martin said.
Mr. Martin believes his team will do well against region foes, with Westgate being the main roadblock to another state championship for Victory Christian.
"They don't have a lot of experience, but they have a lot of heart," he said of his team. "I'd almost rather have heart."
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.