Defending-champion Westminster is right where it wants to be. The Wildcats are No. 1 in Class AAA and remain undefeated through 15 games, with one tie this season.
Last year, the Wildcats defeated Pace Academy 2-1 in the championship game at Mercer University in Macon to earn their 12th boys soccer championship. As a bonus, the girls also defeated Pace Academy to earn their 10th girls soccer championship. (Westminster girls tied for a title in 2006 with Blessed Trinity)
This season, Westminster opened with a 1-1 tie in an exhibition with Buford, but since then the Wildcats have been rolling. Through the next 15 games, Westminster has outscored its"opponents 75-4 with 12 shutouts. A 0-0 tie with Norman North (Ok.) on April 6 is the only ‘blemish" on the card for Westminster.
Coach Scott Snyder has been at the helm of the Wildcats for 18 seasons and has won 7 state titles – 2001, 2006-07, 2011-13 and 2017.
He answered several questions by telephone while overseeing his team’s practice.
Q. Tell me about the team this season versus last year’s championship team?
A. Until we win, I put them … well. In terms of, well, we are doing well. Last year’s team, once they found the way they should be playing, they played really well, too. It just took us longer. I think this year’s team is good, but we have two region games ahead and if we lose those, we’re back behind the 8-ball again.
Q. Soccer has been successful at Westminster, clearly. Winning the girls and boys titles in the same year had to be special. Tell me about it?
A. It was really nice. To be fair, I think the girls have consistently been one of the top teams in the state, and we hadn’t been there since 2013. It was great to just stay up with them. I think they won state four times out of the years we weren’t there. We are just trying to keep up with them, usually.
Q. What’s the approach to the playoffs? Business as usual? Or do you shift focus at any point of the season?
A. The biggest thing now is to keep your focus the same all year. I mean, you’ve been through a lot and once you get to the playoffs, if you lose your focus, you don’t get another chance. We really just try to polish up what we’ve been doing. The best thing about it, honestly, it’s just fun being with the kids. If we win, I get three more days with them, so that’s my motivation more than anything. We just have a good time together.
Q. Who has stepped up this year? Tell me a bit about the team leaders.
A. Everybody is new on that front. All of our leadership from last year graduated. But this year we have good leaders. We have an excellent senior class. I have probably 10 or more seniors, and not all of them play, but they’re all good guys, and it has helped that they’ve kind of stepped up. Our school is such that everybody is very deferential. It’s hard to be a leader until you’re a senior because it’s kind of against the culture. But I’ve had some step up. I have some juniors who have stepped up as well. The best thing about it is that half of my team is football players. They just know how to go about business a little bit differently than club soccer players do. They’re just used to working. They don’t whine as much because they know it doesn’t matter, and in football the coach makes them do it anyway. I’ve got the head football coach (Gerry Romberg) as my assistant, and he helps me here and I help him with football. We kind of cross-recruit. I’ve got a kid going to Stanford this year to punt who also plays soccer. I bet you if you look at my roster, almost half are football. It makes them tougher and a bit harder.
Q. When you aren’t filling your time with soccer, what do you do?
A. Well, I have four kids. I coach club (soccer) because I need to make the money. I coach football in the fall. I work the basketball score clock in the winter, and in the summer I work camps. I would love to be able to read a book. I usually get to read two a year, around Christmas break and then one in the summer when we go on vacation. But I love sports. I am a huge Steelers man and like Tennessee football and, for now, I like the Penguins so I’m living large for a few more weeks.