ROANOKE – If you spend time around the Patrick Henry boys soccer team, you'll quickly find there's one word to describe them: family.
"I know it's cliche, but if I've ever been able to see the true definition of that cliche it's definitely on this team, my 15th season," said Patrick Henry boys soccer coach Chris Dowdy.
With only five seniors, the Patriots have exceeded expectations. At 17-3, they possess something not every team has.
"It's just our will to win, because we have this great will as a team to win and we play with a lot of passion, and I think that's mostly what drives us," said junior Ian Yeaton.
Patrick Henry reeled off 10 straight wins before falling in the district championship to Blacksburg. That's when they did what they do best: rally around one another.
"We were like, 'No more losing, guys, we need to win, no matter what,'" said sophomore Erick Kilosho.
Their 2018 campaign came to an end in the region semifinals just one win away from a state tournament berth. They use that as fuel to the fire as they look to embark on another postseason run.
"I think we're a lot better than we were last year and I think we're definitely a lot closer, so I think that's what has allowed us to have a great season. We've had some big wins but also some tough losses but we always learn from those so that's great," said junior Case Eshelman.
The Patriots play games like they practice, unified. They locked in the No. 1 seed in the region tournament and, with that, get to host the first round of regional action Thursday.
"Every win that you get just gets more and more important, and having those at home where a good base of those fans are yours are probably going to make the biggest difference in the world," said Dowdy.
They laugh, they dance and they pick on each other. But most of all, they play as one, like family.