Soccer goal to think positively about future
The Eudora Cardinals soccer team lost 11 of its 12 games this year. But the head coach of the second-year program has great optimism for the future.
Erik Peltzman's team has come a long way since its winless inaugural season. Eudora's games were far more competitive than a year ago, including an all-important 2-1 victory over Wyandotte in September. The program's first victory gave the Cardinals something upon which to build.
A lot of the players have drawn comparisons between Eudora's soccer and football programs. The Cardinal football team experienced winless seasons and years of mediocrity before emerging as a perennial 4A contender.
A one-win season doesn't exactly assure that Eudora is turning the corner, but Peltzman believes that barring a few bad breaks his team might have posted a few more victories this year. In his view Eudora's 10-0 loss to eventual 4A state runner-up De Soto in the bi-district playoff was a microcosm of the season.
"A couple of those shots were just unstoppable," he said. "Unlucky things like that have haunted us all season, which didn't reflect well on us. Otherwise we would have had three or four wins other than just one. But having the one was nice -- just getting over the win, knowing what it's like to win."
Learning how to win is a critical lesson for a sophomore program. Losing can become habitual, and it had for Eudora. But the Cards now have a reference point.
Eudora, however, was unable to generate much momentum following the emotional Wyandotte victory.
However, the Cards defined their season during their post-victory hangover. Eudora suffered a pair of shutout losses in that stretch, truly testing the mettle of the team.
"I think that was part of our big problem last year and then part of this year," Peltzman said. "It was that same thing where we'd get down a goal and you could see the team was emotionally drained by it. They just start to expect losing. In an early program, it's hard to get a feel for the effort that it takes to geta win."
Eudora never managed to post another win, but the effort did improve dramatically down the stretch.
"We hit that little slump there, and I think that was a little shocking to the team," Peltzman said. "But from a coaching standpoint, getting them to step back up and be able to pull it out and contend in those last few games was impressive."
It was the play of his team down the stretch that fuels Peltzman's optimism.
"As long as we can continue to keep the momentum, we'll probably look at doubling our season next year and really look at stepping up," he said. "If we get the right spark, next year could be a great season for us."
Eudora will rely on this year's junior class to provide that spark. The youth of the program has been matched by the youth of its roster. In a pioneer program, leadership is at a premium.
"I'm not too concerned for next year," Peltzman said. "We have a great core of juniors coming back. Eleven of the 19 kids we brought in uniform to De Soto were juniors. That's a solid team right there."
Peltzman thinks that group of juniors is eager as well.
"A lot of the juniors are very excited to come back," he said. "A lot of them have talked about how we're ready. They like how we stepped it up, and they liked our intensity."
The sincerity of the players' enthusiasm could be put to the test during off-season work.
"I had three or four of them get together in the off-season this year," Peltzman said. "If I can get six or seven more next year, I'll have a full 11 kids ready to roll. I think that's what will happen. It is just part of the program's development."
And the coach said his team's development was actually a little ahead of schedule.
"I'm really impressed," he said. "I don't think too many schools can start a program and in their second year walk away with the talent and ability that we have right now."