SOCCER: Bright shines as Polk County’s last line of defense
Published 12:38 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2023
By Jed Blackwell
Cade Bright has seen a lot from his position in goal for Polk County.
There have been highs and lows, and through them all Bright has remained a constant for the Wolverines, playing goalkeeper at all levels since fourth grade except for a brief stint during his sophomore year.
“I played center back for a while that year,” Bright said. “Other than that, I’ve been a keeper.”
What does Bright find attractive about being the last line of defense?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess I’m just kind of good at it. I’ve liked soccer, always. I just didn’t really have a position I was good at until I found goalie.”
That’s an understatement. Take, for example, last week’s game against North Carolina School for Science and Math. Early in the first half, a Dragons player had a clear breakaway, with only Bright to beat for a 1-0 lead.
Bright came charging out, stayed on his feet, lunged feet-first at the ball just as the player took a shot and knocked it away.
It was a remarkable play, but one that seems to have become commonplace for Bright. He recorded his second straight shutout on Monday as Polk County battled East Henderson to an 0-0 draw, the match stopped midway through the second half due to inclement weather.
“He has very good fast-twitch muscles,” Wolverines coach George Alley said of Bright. “He’s very instinctual, and he’s done that before for us.”
For Bright, making that play and others like it is something that’s just second nature.
“I just go straight off instinct,” he said. “If I think about going to get it, I just go get it. I try not to second guess, because when you do that you hesitate, and then it’s bad either way.”
It’s not just instinct, though. It’s camp instruction and film study, including the play of Manchester City keeper Ederson Santana de Moreas, that have helped Bright hone his skills.
“I study a lot of keepers,” he said. “Most of the time you’re going to want to cut off the angle as fast as you can. Putting some pressure on cuts that angle off pretty quickly.”
Bright’s quiet, analytical nature on the pitch serves the Wolverines well. Alley said his ability to lead from goal has been a huge difference for Polk County.
“He could be a little more vocal, but that’s not his personality,” Alley said. “He’s our quiet rock, and everybody knows it. And he distributes the ball well, punts the ball well, and his talent is going to keep us in a lot of games.”
Bright seems to enjoy the solitary nature of his position and the pressure that comes with constant attention to what’s happening in front of him, even when it’s 100 yards away.
“You have to always be watching the ball because when it comes my way, I want to make sure I’m on my game,” he said. “There’s a lot of pressure. When the ball comes to you and you’re the last one back there, when it’s just you left, you have to stop it.”
Bright, an All-Mountain Foothills 7 Conference selection last season, sees the improvement the Wolverines have made, and he’s hopeful for his senior year.
“It’s going great,” he said. “We’re playing a lot better as a team, and we’re connecting more passes. I’m hoping we can make the playoffs. We need a .500 record, and I think we can do that.”
He’s enjoying the positives along the way.
“Experiencing the lows helps you anticipate the highs,” he said. “Winning games definitely feels a lot better.”