Out to prove last season’s unbeaten start wasn’t a fluke, the South Gwinnett boys soccer team has made a statement in 2021.
The Comets, ranked second in Class AAAAAAA, are 14-3-2 this season with only one loss since mid-February. They fought off other top contenders for the Region 4-AAAAAAA championship — their third straight season dominating in region play.
They won the region in 2019 and had an 11-0 record in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the remainder of the spring sports season. The stoppage kept South’s players from proving their mettle in late-season matches and the playoffs, but they made up for it this spring under a new coach in Christian Vasquez, who replaced former coach Chad Riley.
The region run this year was even more challenging than past seasons because perennial powers Brookwood and Parkview are on the region schedule.
“This year it felt really good winning region because it’s a new region and I think we have one of the toughest regions in Georgia with Parkview, Grayson, Newton,” said Vasquez, an Apalachee grad who previously coached five seasons in Barrow County (four with the Apalachee boys and one as Winder-Barrow’s girls coach). “We really felt, the kids felt, they weren’t given respect from the 11-0 record when the (2020) season ended. We moved into a new region and then people thought the 11-0 was more of a (weak) strength-of-schedule thing. So to win region, we were excited about it, especially being in a new region and winning it.”
Vasquez inherited a successful program with some talented seniors, players who reached the state quarterfinals as freshmen and built on it in the ensuing seasons.
“What’s really helping our team is we have a good group of seniors and a good group of underclassmen, and I give credit to my (10) seniors for making sure we take it one day at a time,” Vasquez said.
Two brother tandems are at the forefront of the Comets’ big season.
Four-year stars Kadeem and Sekou Agard, both Mercer signees, have maintained their high level of play. Kadeem has 36 goals and eight assists from his striker position, while Sekou has 13 goals and 20 assists from the central midfield. Caleb Rolon (four goals, 11 assists) also has been key in the midfield, while his brother Jacob anchors the defense at center back. The Rolons have signed with Truett-McConnell.
Senior Tresor Ngoga, a defensive midfielder, also is a vital piece of the lineup.
“(Ngoga) is a legit example of playing every game like it’s his last,” Vasquez said.
Haris Huskovic has five goals and five assists as another element of the attack, while Jorge Remegio, a sophomore, has locked down the important left back spot on a defense that headed into this season without one key position — goalkeeper.
With no goalies trying out this season, South turned to sophomore Erik Calvillo, a talented striker and center midfielder. He had a little goalkeeping experience in his past, and the Comets didn’t have other options.
“(Calvillo) is really good at (playing the field), but he was willing (to play goalkeeper),” Vasquez said. “He said, ‘Coach, I know the team needs a keeper.’ … We graduated our starting keeper, so he made the conversion to keeper. The first couple of games were learning experiences for him, but now the kids aren’t even worried about him in goal. They expect him to save everything. He’s made some game-changing saves in big games.”
South hopes to have several more big games on the schedule in the state playoffs, which begin Wednesday night with a 7:30 p.m. home game against Colquitt County.
“We realize anybody can beat anybody in the playoffs,” Vasquez said. “You have to take it one game at a time, show up, do what you have to do and win. Even if you’re the higher seed, you can lose any time. The mindset is one game at a time in the playoffs. With 7A being how it is, you look at the bracket and anybody can beat anybody.”