Archive for Thursday, November 16, 2006

De Soto win gives soccer team a building block

November 16, 2006

It was not a game the Eudora soccer team and coach Matt Higgins expected to win. After losing the past five games, the Cardinals were in somewhat of a rut. That's probably what made the De Soto win all the sweeter.

"I think the biggest thing of the win was that it gave the team confidence for the future and gave us respectability from other teams," Higgins said. "Now teams won't overlook us anymore."

Higgins said that game summarized everything Eudora had worked so hard to achieve during the season. And just one week later, the Cardinals reached another apex in their season, making a district tournament appearance.

It was a long trek, though, to get to the De Soto win. This season marked Higgins' first season as the head coach. He said it took roughly the whole season to get fully acquainted with the team's knowledge of the game.

"What we really had to do was to have them understand the basics of the game," Higgins said. "Lots of kids grow up watching football and baseball, but not many people watch soccer. By the end of the season, we were watching soccer twice a week for 30 minutes. We increased our knowledge of the game -- just knowing how to play it."

Higgins said it also did not help that he more-or-less did not know any specifics of any of the league's teams. But after close analysis of each team and their coaches, Higgins said he was confident that will change next year.

"That was something that was hard for me as a first year coach," Higgins said. "Next year, I'll know to watch for number seven in Paola. We can practice the week ahead for what they are going to do."

However, with nine starters returning for varsity next year, Higgins said the base he and assistant coach Paul Theverajoo created should carry over and result in more wins next season. Higgins said he was expecting big things from junior Connor Hartpence, who was developing his skill in an indoor league. He also said freshman Matt Jump would be a force to be reckoned with next year when javascript:body_doublesp()he would undoubtedly get bigger.

Regardless of the great things he expects from next year's varsity team, Higgins said there really is no way to fill the gap created by the 15 outgoing seniors, especially Erryn Kindle, who scored nine goals during the season out of 100 shots.

"Erryn was a great leader," Higgins said. "He never put anyone down -- he never gave up. Erryn and the seniors also had a terrific work ethic. I'm just hoping our juniors will continue what he and the other seniors started and adopt that work ethic in the off-season."

The 2006 season was the best Eudora has had since its inception. With a record of 3-13-2, the Cardinals only trailed by one point in seven of those losses. Isaac Welsh also had a notable season, with six goals out of 40 shots. As a team, the Cardinals scored 40 goals of 407 shots.

Higgins also said starting goalkeeper Anthony Barta's performance in the 2006 season was invaluable. Barta made 288 saves in the season.

But what Higgins said made the season successful was not the De Soto win or the win against Tonganoxie that allowed for Eudora to make a district tournament appearance. Rather, what really defined the season was the amount of fun the team had while playing games and practicing.

"No matter what the record was, they had a lot of heart -- more than any team I've been around," Higgins said. "They just had fun and never gave up."

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