By Nick Flores/NPSL.com
Appalachian FC has seen an upward trend of success over the last two seasons. With the 2021 summer being their inaugural NPSL season, the team has climbed high and reached even greater heights in 2022.
The club won the Southeast Conference Championship this season and finished with a record of 9-2-3 over the course of the entire season. While the work on the pitch is certainly credited to the team’s success over the last two years, head coach Dale Parker is also to credit for his work with the club.
Parker has been at the helm of the club since the summer 2021 and since the beginning of the 2022 season, he knew expectations would be a bit different having done so well last summer.
“We came into the season knowing how close we were last year and the expectation was to build a team that could win the conference,” Parker said. “We started really well, which is a massive help. As the season went on, we got better and better, and there was a point where we felt we could compete with anyone.”
With the expectations high for the club, the support from the Boone, North Carolina community was massive for the team. The expectation for the players at the club is to play for the fans and win. The club wants to give back to the community for their support, and the best way they feel they can do that is by winning.
The way the team was able to win so many games was by their “frontfoot” style of play.
“We commit a lot of numbers forward and want to express an attacking style of football with the expectation that if we don’t succeed, we’ll counter press and make sure we win the ball as high up the field as we can,” Parker said. “We play in an environment in Boone where we’re at altitude so we get to train with less oxygen in the air, and we adapted to that very well. When teams come to the mountains and play us, they sometimes struggle with our intensity.”
That intensity is what has made Appalachian FC such a tough team to face over the last two seasons, and they plan to build off of what they’ve built thus far. With throwing a lot of numbers forward though a team must be able to defend as well.
Appalachian has gotten much better at keeping a compact shape according to Parker and when caught out of possession, the team understands what they need to do in order to prevent conceding.
Their style of play also contributed to Parker winning the 2022 NPSL Coach of the Season award. The award was voted on by teams, media, and fans nationwide, and Parker is well deserving of the honor.
“It’s a really nice feeling,” Parker said. “I was very humble when I saw it. I certainly wasn’t expecting it. I think a lot of that individual award needs to be spread amongst the team, the ownership, fans, and staff because without every single piece of what we do, these individual awards are not possible. It’s not really something you ever set out to do but when it happens it’s a really nice feeling. Obviously as a young coach as well it inspires me to get better.”
It seems as if Appalachian FC is going to continue their upward trend in the following seasons and with Parker at the wheel, there’s no doubt that the club will see a great amount of success in the future.
With the community backing the club, the players improving each year, and Parker at the helm of it all, Appalachian FC is going to be a club that NPSL fans should keep an eye on. They have big aspirations on and off the pitch and with a manager as qualified as Parker, the sky’s the limit for the Boone club.
Photo Credit: Aldo Sarabia