Athlete of the Week: Sloan fuels Sharks’ youth infusion

There’s a youth movement under way with the St. James boys soccer team, and freshman Conor Sloan is leading the charge as the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week.

Sloan is leading the team in goals (17) and he is second on the team in assists with five. Sloan leads the teams in points (39), followed by sophomores Quadarius Grate (22) and Keaton Zimmer (14) and fellow freshman Cole Gulledge (10).

Best of all, Sloan also is leading by example as only a ninth grader. “A very talented freshman … hard working, respectful, and a very competitive person,” St. James soccer coach Sylvester Carr said of Sloan.

The No. 14-ranked Sharks are starting to make some serious noise on the Grand Strand soccer scene and they’re doing it primarily with a group of freshman and sophomore.

And while they may be newcomers to the high school game, they are old hats at the sport of soccer. Sloan said he and many of his teammates have been playing together for a decade.

“We all play for the same club at Coast FA, and seven of us have been playing together since we were 5 years old,” said Sloan. “We’ve played together so long that there’s a lot of chemistry on our high school team.”

The Sharks own an 11-6-1 overall record and are 4-3 in one of the toughest regions in the state. The Sharks have lost some heart-breaking games to region rivals Myrtle Beach and Socastee, which have been ranked in the top 5 all season.

“We’ve played some close games against Myrtle Beach and Socastee and they’re two of the best teams in the state,” Sloan said. “If we can play with them we feel like we can play with anybody in the state. We want to make a run in the playoffs.”

The Sharks lost both games against Socastee in overtime or penalty kicks, and they suffered a 2-1 loss to top-ranked Myrtle Beach. However, the Seahawks gave them a rude wake-up call in last week’s 5-0 rout.

“One one-sided-loss, our worst loss (of the season), to Myrtle Beach has made him and his teammates even more focus on what this team should accomplished at season ends,” Carr said.

Much of that rests on the shoulders (and feet) of Sloan, but he believes the Sharks’ teamwork and youth movement will pay off in the playoffs.

“We’re young but we’ve been playing together for a long time and it feels like we’re all coming together, the seniors and juniors too,” Sloan said. “We want to finish the season strong and try to win a state championship.”

If not this season, then certainly in the years to come.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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