Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

News goals to define Eudora soccer team’s year

August 17, 2006

"If you believe it, you can achieve it."

That's the motto for the Eudora High School soccer team, and it could not be any more appropriate.

Finishing the 2005 season with only two wins and placing dead last at the regional competition, the team has never had a winning season since its inception in 2002. This year's team believes that can all change.

New coaches Matt Higgins and Paul Thevarajoo introduced two goals for the 2006 season.

"We want to have nine wins so we are over .500 ? we want a winning season," Higgins said.

Accomplishing that goal may be more difficult than it seems given the program's short history. Last year the team won only two games and tied one. Still, confidence reigned Monday when the team opened fall practice.

Outside midfielder Connor Hartpence said the goal was attainable, that an older and more mature team could realize the first of Higgins and Thevarajoo's two mandates. He said they would not get pushed around, and instead, would look forward to doing some of the pushing.

Next, after finishing above .500 on the season, the coaches said they're leveling their sights on Kansas Highway 10 rival De Soto.

That too would seem a talk task, but again, the Cardinals are confident.

De Soto has regularly trounced Eudora since the Cardinals first fielded a team four years ago, winning via the 10-goal mercy rule in every game prior to 2005.

Last season the tide shifted a little. De Soto still won in dominating fashion -- the Wildcats won the first game by five goals and the second by six -- but Eudora scored its first goal in the series in the first game and played the Cats tough in both games.

Junior goalkeeper Anthony Barta said he was looking forward to the challenge.

"I'm excited about showing everyone what we are about," Barta said. "This year, we've got a pretty good team, and we have some good leaders."

But goals aside, Hartpence said the team looked better now than it ever had, especially after the preseason soccer camp that concluded two weeks ago.

"After the camp, we started using teamwork and getting everything together," Hartpence said. "Things have started to click already."

Coaching in his first year, Higgins said he has no idea what to expect from the schedule, and he said that would likely translate to a lot of in-game adjustments.

He did say he's been able to pick out a few of the team's leaders already though, and that senior Erryn Kindle has jumped to the top of the heap.

"What makes him strong is he's a great leader," Higgins said. "He can manage the team from the field really well, and that's a huge benefit."

But Kindle is not the only leader on the team. Higgins said he expected the upper classmen to provide strong leadership to the team also, and he had no doubt they would do that.

Although just eight days away from the first game, Higgins said the players do have some work to do, especially when it comes to gelling as a team. But he said that should all change after a month of solid play and after the two teams ? varsity and junior varsity ? had been decided, which should happen this week.

Practice and mental preparation can only take a team so far. One thing that can't be planned for is getting into a slump and not rebounding out of it. Higgins said that was his main concern.

"If you lose two or three in a row, and the team can't get out of that; that's pretty much my only concern ? keeping their confidence high." Higgins said. "We have to be able to get out of those cold spells in the season."

There was evidence everywhere the confidence and team morale might just be there, too. Despite coming off a 2-14-1 season, the guys and girls that will make up the Eudora soccer team laughed and joked. They dished high-fives and smiles were everywhere.

And that's where team morale comes into play, as it can help the members get out of any rut they may get into. At the first day of practice Monday, the guys and girls on the field were smiling and exchanging high-fives.

Barta said there was no doubt in his mind the team would perform well this season.

He believes it, the team believes it and the coaches believe it ? now they all hope they can achieve it.

The varsity team plays its first game at 4 p.m. Aug. 25 against Seabury Academy. The team's first home game is at 4 p.m. Sept. 7 against Turner.

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