Experienced seniors and skillful freshmen rejuvenate Boys Soccer

Edwin Sam

By Edwin Sam ’13, Sports Section Editor

Following the disappointing season last year, calling the Boys’ Soccer team’s season an improvement would be a grave understatement. With the help of new freshmen as well as dedicated seniors, the team has turned around its fortunes. By starting earlier in the year and taking a more serious, focused approach to soccer, the Indians molded into an intimidating squad feared across the city.

“Our goal was to start scoring goals earlier in the season,” senior Mitchell Cruey ’12 continued, “In years past, it’s taken us until about half way through the season to start scoring a decent amount of goals.” In order to coordinate the offense early in the season, the team started in July with a two-week camp led by the director of local soccer club, Cincinnati United Premier, Brian Page.

The week after the camp, the Indians participated in the Mason Pre-Season Classic, finishing 5-0 and not giving up a goal the entire tournament. The creativity and skill of the new freshmen class was highlighted with Nathan Gibson ’15 and Brandin Ward ’15 leading the team in scoring. Though not appearing on the scoresheet as often, fellow freshmen Will Cohen ‘15 and Luke Deimer ’15 anchored the midfield, creating chances and assisting the defense.

Before the regular season began, the Indians played a few more scrimmages against the likes of Bethel Tate, Kentucky Bluegrass, Amelia, and Division-I school Princeton staying undefeated and only giving up one goal.

The regular season started in fantastic fashion with the Indians defeating Miami Valley by the score of 3-0. Adversity struck and reality set in as Country Day suffered their first loss in the second game of the season, 3-1 to Springfield Central Catholic. After figuring out star central defender Hunter Behne ’13 would be ineligible due to his transferring from Loveland, depth troubles were exacerbated by early injuries sustained by players like Will Cohen, Matt McFarland ’15, and a plethora of seniors. However, The Indians bounced back well, winning two important matches against Mariemont and Roger Bacon.

The next test of the season came in a match versus Seven Hill in which CCD took a first half lead with a volleyed goal by Dominic Isadore ’14. Seven Hills’ star Matt Cohen scored two second half goals to win the game 2-1.Once again, the Indians showed resolve coming back from the loss with a 4-0 victory against Fayetteville and 10-0 against St. Bernard.

The phenomenal freshmen class that shone in the pre-season returned to their good form in the next match against eventual state semifinalist Madeira. After going down 2-0 in the first fifteen minutes, Nathan Gibson and Jake Scheper ‘15 scored in the second half to tie the game at 2-2. Sophomore Wes Mink ’14 made several amazing saves to keep the Indians in the match. Madeira’s superior fitness proved to be the difference as they scored two more goals in the last ten minutes to win the match 4-2.

As many injured players began to heal, the Indians returned to their winning ways, going on a six-game undefeated streak before playing their biggest game of the year against Summit Country Day. CCD lost to Summit 4-1 in the final conference game of the year. Before entering the state playoff, CCD played local rival Indian Hill to a scoreless draw in the last regular season match of the season.

Though the last two games of the regular season did not end the way the Indians might have liked, they gave Country Day a chance to put the season in perspective. “Some people at the beginning of the season weren’t very selfless, but as the season went on, we were glued together and we played as a team,” junior Hunter Behne commented, “A few times against Summit, we strung the ball together really well.”

The Indians entered the state tournament with high aspirations.  However, the composure of a team whose top five scorers were all underclassmen was a concern entering the state tournament. The freshmen showed an uncanny ability to stay calm in the high-pressure knockout rounds. “There is no question that they did not act like freshmen when they were playing. They were as emotional as some of us seniors,” noted Cruey.

Country Day opened the tournament with a 9-0 win over Georgetown which marked Coach Greg Hirschauer’s 200th win as coach of CCD. Following the blowout win against Georgetown, the Indians returned with a similar 8-0 result against Felicity-Franklin. This win allowed the Indians to meet Madeira in the sectional final, what would be a rematch of a game played earlier in the season.

Played at a neutral site under the lights, the game was a battle of skill, intelligence, and a flash of luck here and there. Madeira, the second ranked team in the city, scored a sloppy goal just before half time to take a lead into the break. Chances in the match were few and far between, but in the middle of the second period, Madeira scored again, this time off a deflected shot which wrong-footed goalkeeper Wes Mink. The scoreline held up and saw Madeira win the sectional final en route to later advancing all the way to the state semifinal.

When you take a step back and look at the team’s statistics, only then can you appreciate the truly impressive season. The Indians finished with a 13-5-2 overall record and a 4-2-1 conference record. In their 20 matches, the balance between defense and offense was their trademarked characteristic. As Mink garnered 11 shutouts and 84 total saves, Country Day scored 78 goals and only gave up 18.

As the stats show, the Indians’ senior heavy defense and freshmen heavy attack were their recipes for success. The calming presence of the senior defenders, who contributed a balance vital to competition at a high level, provided an example for the young, skillful freshmen who will continue to lead the Boys’ Soccer program in future years.