Their steady improvements came to a head March 8 when the Hornets sprung an upset on AAAAAA’s No. 4 ranked Walton, a win that Roswell coach Billy Viger said could be the confidence builder his squad needs to make their first state playoff appearance since 2009.
“We set the goal at the beginning of the season to win at least 10 games and qualify for the state tournament,” said the Roswell coach, who took over the head gig at the start of the 2012 season. “That win over Walton was huge for our confidence; it got us some respect in the state and proved to the boys that we can play consistently with one of the better programs around.”
The win was one of seven so far this season for Roswell (7-2 overall, 3-1 in region play), putting them well on the way to their 10-win goal at the season’s halfway point. It also moved them into second place in 5AAAAAA, trailing only undefeated Lassiter for the top spot in the region.
Viger said the team’s progress revolves around the experience that the young group gained a season ago, when they went from a four-win squad in 2011 to a 9-7-2 record in 2012 — missing the state playoffs by just one victory.
“We returned five starters and have 10 upperclassmen in our first 11,” said Viger of his team. “That extra maturity makes a big difference and we have leadership and balance on all areas of the field because of it.”
The mixture of leadership and balance starts in the midfield where seniors Cameron Duley and Joe Fitton give Viger two of the more talented, and versatile mids in the region. Icelandic sweeper Arnar Johannsson brings a combination of smarts and consistency to the backline, junior goalkeeper Tristan Kaisharis is allowing less than one score per game, and forward Marco Fazio, who notched the game-winner against Walton, has sparked Roswell’s offense.
“Cam and Joe are as good as any center midfield duo around and they give us a ton of balance as far as what we can do on defense and with our attack. We aren’t truly superior on either end and that is a great characteristic to have in a team,” said Viger.
“If we can continue to play like we have, with full intensity for 80 minutes of every game, I think we have a good shot with this team to get [to the playoffs].”
Roswell played Lassiter last night in a game that would determine first place in 5AAAAAA. Results were unavailable at press time.
Their region schedule will wrap with a game at Cherokee Thursday and a home tilt versus Woodstock Tuesday.