Catawba Ridge’s Joshua White tries to beat two Boiling Springs defenders to the ball during a recent game between the two teams.

FORT MILL – While that new car smell is still part of Catawba Ridge, that doesn’t mean that they are letting the inexperience of being a first-year program set them behind on the soccer pitch.

                Head coach Phillip McCarter said his team is already performing well in their first season, despite not really getting into the heart of their schedule yet.

                Catawba Ridge is now 2-2 on the season, having beaten 5A Northwestern and Boiling Springs, while losing to 5A schools in Dorman and TL Hanna. Their win over Northwestern was in their first game ever played and was a 1-0 victory with junior Nate Randall scoring the lone goal for the Copperheads, the first goal in the history of the school, in the Bryan Ostrower High School Soccer Showcase. McCarter wasn’t sure how things would go with such a tough non-region schedule and where they would be at this point.

                “We are a little bit ahead of schedule because we are competing on a 5A schedule,” McCarter said.

                In their most recent game, the Copperheads beat Boiling Springs 2-1, rallying after going down early 1-0. Randall and sophomore Derek Ringnalda scored the two goals for Catawba Ridge.

                The Copperhead’s non-region schedule is packed with games against the majority of 5A and 4A teams like Fort Mill and Nation Ford, along with South Pointe and Lancaster. They also face Rock Hill and will play Northwestern again as well. Catawba Ridge will play Rock Hill as their last non-region game before starting Region 4-3A play March 10, and then have other non-region games sprinkled within that schedule.

                McCarter said the Rock Hill match will be a test for Catawba Ridge before they enter region play.

                “That will be our toughest match before region play,” he said. “All of this will make us battle hardened.”

                However, what will really count for Catawba Ridge will be how they do in their own region. McCarter said he feels that his team can not only compete for a playoff spot, but for the actual region title. McCarter said the biggest challenge for a region title will come from both Camden and Indian Land.

                “Our goal is to win the region and make a deep run in the playoffs,” he said. “It is going to come down to who executes.”

                Because Catawba Ridge doesn’t have seniors, the inaugural team is made up of the majority of juniors, with three sophomores and two freshmen.

                “We are young and still learning a lot,” McCarter said. “We have got a junior or a good sophomore at every position. We aren’t deep. We only have 18 players, three of them are keepers. That could affect things if we don’t stay healthy, but we do have a pretty balanced roster.”

Mac Banks:, @MacBanksFM