By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD — It isn’t easy coaching boys soccer at Wildwood High School.
Numbers are always an issue, and many of the players who come through the ranks have at best mostly limited and at worst zero club experience when they arrive in the program.
Despite that, Steve DeHorsey has figured out a way to build a relatively competitive program and now the 17th-year head coach is on the cusp of a milestone.
Monday’s 4-1 win over Overbrook in cold, blustery conditions at Kaitlin Anzelone Memorial Field moved DeHorsey one victory from 100 for his career. The Warriors will try to give him that signature victory Wednesday when they host a Gloucester Catholic team they beat by six goals on the road earlier this season.
“I hadn’t really thought about (100 wins) until the last four or five years,” said DeHorsey, who’s 99-255-10 for his career. “But then I kind of put that as a goal that maybe I’d like to accomplish. Now that it’s within reach, it’s something that we’ve used to kind of motivate the boys with and experience together.”
Wildwood has enjoyed some its best success in recent years. Although the team won just three games last fall, the Warriors posted 10, eight and a program-record 13 victories from 2016 through 2018, respectively.
“I’m happy with how we’ve come along,” DeHorsey said. “It hasn’t been a climb all the way to the top but at least we’ve been competitive pretty much every year the last few years.”
DeHorsey is a 1994 graduate of Wildwood. He set the program’s all-time goal-scoring record with 44 that has since been surpassed by three different players, each of whom DeHorsey coached. Tyler Tomlin, a 2019 graduate, is the program’s all-time leading scorer with 57 goals, followed by 2014 graduate Jared Irwin with 56 goals and 2017 graduate Dennis McAllister with 54.
“We’ve been able to have some really good players come through,” DeHorsey said. “Some of them have gone on and played at the next level, too.”
DeHorsey was also a standout basketball player as a student at Wildwood.
“When I was in high school Joe Bimbo, who’s my uncle, was our coach and I was part of the team to get him his 100th win and that was kind of a cool experience,” DeHorsey said.
DeHorsey said he’s begun to think about the end of his tenure as a coach. He has a young assistant coach, Sal Zampirri, who’s a teacher in the district and was himself a standout player at Wildwood Catholic.
“I think everything has a life cycle and my kids are getting older now and they’ve been wanting me to coach them and help them more than I have currently,” DeHorsey said. “Everything has to come to an end at some point. With Sal on board, we’ve been grooming and he’s going to be a good head coach at some point.
“I will not be doing this another 17 years, definitely not,” he added with a laugh.
In Monday’s game, Wildwood opened a 3-0 lead at the interval before the teams traded goals in the second half. Owen Oakley scored twice and Joey Mormile and Justin Lopez each added goals for the Warriors. Elder Gonzalez assisted on Mormile’s goal, providing a corner kick that Mormile hit first time with a beautiful strike.
Wildwood improved to 6-4 with the win.
“I don’t think we’ve played our best game yet,” DeHorsey said. “We do have six wins and we’ve been in every one of the four losses. I’m hoping we jell at the right time for whatever kind of tournament it is that’s put together for all of us.
“Last year was a tough year for us but I think that year may have helped a lot of our guys be better for this year.”