Team turns corner in Ottawa match-up
The Eudora High School soccer team racked up four more losses this week, but its coach thinks it may have turned a corner.
The relatively young program has managed just one win through two and a half seasons now. But coach Erik Peltzman believes the program's second win is getting closer.
Eudora reached the midway point of the season with a trio of losses to Ottawa, Pittsburg and Paola. Ottawa dispatched Eudora 10-1. The Cards hung in there a little longer against Pittsburg, falling 7-1.
Eudora followed with a statement- making 4-1 loss to Paola and a 10-0 loss Tuesday to Tonganoxie.
The Cardinals' goal going into the Ottawa match was simply to avoid a mercy-rule defeat. And an Andy Coffman goal secured the objective.
"They're probably the best team right now that we've faced," Peltzman said. "I think that's kind of where we turned the corner.
"We got eight shots on goal. That's where we started getting better."
Coffman again delivered the Cards only goal against Pittsburg.
Pittsburg scored four goals within the first 10 minutes of the contest. But the Eudora defense regrouped, holding Pittsburg scoreless until the latter minutes of the second half; when the opponents struck with three quick scores.
The defensive stand in the middle of the contest, Coffman's goal and another 29 shots on goal were all significant factors for the team to build on.
That foundation led to a strong start versus Paola.
"We scored the first goal and led for about 20 minutes," Peltzman said. "It was an incredible feeling.
"Eventually their bench just wore us down. They scored about 20 minutes into the second half and it took the wind out of our sails. The way the season's gone so far, it's hard to stay up when you see a loss coming."
Eudora and Paola entered the half tied at 1-1. But the Panther's three unanswered second-half goals were too much to overcome.
Three players really stood out to their head coach during the Paola contest.
"The big jump has come from Bobby Linzer, Tyler Hartpence and Andy Coffman," Peltzman said. "They've been pretty incredible. Tyler had 12 shots on goal, and Andy had a couple.
"Bobby had six and was probably our best player (Monday) all over the field."
Eudora finished with 30 shots on goal -- nearly 60 in the past two games. That's a monumental improvement for the Cardinal program.
One of the Paola players noticed a distinct improvement in Eudora's efforts and suggested improvement in Eudora's efforts and suggested it must be spilling over from the practice field.
"We've really been working on the little things," Peltzman said. "We're seeing the drills, we've been running paying off in a game, and that feels good as a coach.
"We've been working on trapping. We probably could have played Paola a little closer if we'd trapped more. But again our luck just wasn't very good."
The Cardinal coach said luck played a big part in the game.
"In soccer, 70 percent of the game is skill and 30 percent is luck," Peltzman said. "And luck hasn't been on our side at all this year. But for a team that's taken as many losses as we have, I've been really proud the way these kids are playing.
"As a coach, I couldn't be in a better spot right now. It is tough marking another loss on the calendar but it could be worse. They could have given up on me."
Keeping his team motivated has been the greatest test for Peltzman.
"Winning isn't everything, but it sure does help you coach," Peltzman said. "That's the challenge for me -- keeping them believing in themselves. I've always believed in them, but those guys really need to believe that we have a real opportunity."
The next opportunity for Eudora is a home game with Highland Park.
"What I need to see...is a full 80 minutes," Peltzman said. "If we can hang in there with Tonganoxie, I think we'll go out and smoke Highland Park. And then we can start to build toward October and start to believe we can contend."
And as far as Peltzman is concerned, it begins with his seniors' leadership.
"I need to see continued effort on the seniors' part," he said. "When they're fully involved and with their heads in the game the team responds.
"When the Paola game got out of our grasp, the seniors' heads were down and the kids responded to that. If I see them lay down against Tonganoxie, it'll be tough. I'll press them all week to snap out of it."