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MOUNT WASHINGTON - The dream became reality on Friday for Bullitt East senior Rob Daugherty when he made it all official by signing to play soccer next fall for Cumberland College.
The leading career goal scorer in Bullitt East history with 67, Daugherty already had a relationship with the Pioneer program having attended camp there twice over the past three summers. He was already a known commodity when he walked into the door of Cumberland head coach Paulo Neto.
"I visited Campbellsville and Bellarmine and Georgetown and I liked those schools," Daugherty said after making it official in a ceremony in the Bullitt East lobby. "I already knew coach Neto from the camps and he remembered me. It was easy to just sit down with him. I decided early I wanted to go there."
Daugherty was a four-year varsity player for Bullitt East and started the past three seasons.
"I followed him through high school and club ball and he has done well," Neto said. "He has been attending our camp for three years and he's done well. Our camp has grown into one of the largest in the state and he has been a top player."
Cumberland posted a 15-5-1 record in the fall, Neto's fifth as the head coach, and the Pioneers were ranked among the top 25 teams in the state. The squad finished second in the Mid-South Conference.
Cumberland has both a varsity and junior-varsity program, but Neto said that Daugherty will be funneled into the varsity program. He will join five to ten other newcomers including one player from Seneca.
"He'll play as a left midfielder or play up top more as a forward," Neto said.
While Daugherty always played forward while competing for Bullitt East, he has gained experience at other positions on the field playing for his club squad, The Thoroughbreds, a team based in Oldham County. He has played for them for two years.
"At the next level I could play midfield or like a defensive midfielder," the player said. "They are pretty set in the line-up. I just want to fit in. With my club team I've played other positions other than the forward position I played here."
The 17-year old son of June and Jeff Daugherty grew up playing soccer. His mother is the director of the Bullitt County YMCA so he was competing in their youth program by the time he was 4-years old. He stayed in the YMCA until he was an eighth-grader when he joined the Bullitt East program. That led to him being a key player off the bench as a freshman and then three years as a starter.
Other than a short stint with track at Bullitt East, Daugherty has concentrated on soccer. That included a number of years with the local YMCA Thunder team that included many of his friends and teammates at Bullitt East.
"I've been with some of those guys since the youth league," Daugherty recalled. "There were eight or nine of us together for all of those years. Soccer would not have been as much fun without them."
Bullitt East head coach Mike Brangers was proud of the moment on Friday, but there was also the realization that a lot of offense has to be replaced.
"It's kind of bittersweet," the coach said on Friday after the ceremony. "I would like to keep him around. I have known him for a long time. He was coming to our summer youth camps when we started those. He'll definitely be missed."
The Charger program will have the next best thing as Daugherty's younger brother, 15-year old Daniel, will be in the program and is a leading candidate to be the team's goalie in the fall. Rob also has two younger sisters who attend Eastside Middle School, Mallory and Christina.
Daugherty's plan now is to major in Criminal Justice at Cumberland.
"I've always wanted to do the police work," he said. "I'm thinking FBI. I've wanted to do that since I was young."