As the sun sets on another warm September day in Washington, a man draped from head to toe in a white construction outfit finishes mowing the varsity soccer playing surface at Rees Field. This man isn’t the maintenance director, but the head boys soccer coach for the Washington Catholic Cardinals — Wayne Neace.
After a simple question about the manual labor being done, Neace makes it abundantly clear why he is still working at 7 p.m. while everyone else is enjoying the summer-like weather.
“Someone has to do it, it might as well be me,” Neace quipped.
This interaction is a microcosm of life as the soccer coach at Washington Catholic. With a high school enrollment just over 80, the Cardinals have to maximize every asset they have. There aren’t any grand athletic complexes for Washington Catholic’s programs like the Washington Hatchets have at the Sports Complex.
Neace has to do the best with what he has been given, and up to this point he’s done an excellent job. The passionate fans come out in droves to support the Cardinals boys’ soccer program with as much fervor as any other program in the area, and there has been plenty to cheer about lately. Neace has been the leader of the boys’ soccer program for four years and in that time Washington Catholic has been dominant. A disappointing 3-0 loss Saturday to South Knox was just the second regular season loss since Neace took the job.
The Cardinals have had to reload on the fly this year after the graduations of stars Colton Reed, Brantley Smith and Neace’s son, Christian. The Cardinals won the school’s first sectional championship in 2011, but last year after an undefeated regular season, WC was upset by Forest Park in the first round of the sectional at Northeast Dubois. Despite a four-year stretch of excellence on the field, the Cardinals are far under the radar in their own town — for good reason. The Hatchets won 15 sectional championships between 1994 and 2010, with 2005 as the only year they didn’t hoist a sectional championship trophy.