Seven seniors lead ChristianThere were seven sophomores on Mitchell Christian’s boys soccer team in 2008.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
There were seven sophomores on Mitchell Christian’s boys soccer team in 2008.
It was the year that Mitchell Christian broke away from Mitchell United and was its own independent team for the first time since 2000.
All seven of the sophomores stuck through two seasons in which the Eagles won a combined three games and are back with the team for their senior year.
“We’ve seen a maturing process through the whole thing, and the seniors are taking it among themselves this year to be leaders,” Mitchell Christian coach Bob Lemon said. “They’re trying to make a difference and that has really been an added benefit. They’ve stuck with it and haven’t been discouraged.”
From 2001-2007, Mitchell United was a program that combined players from Mitchell High and Mitchell Christian for one soccer team in town.
In the first year the Eagles fielded their own team, they won one game and scored three goals all year.
Last year, the team improved to win two games and pick up three ties.
The seven seniors that were on both of those teams have higher expectations this year, Lemon said.
“We are looking to make improvements in all areas of our game,” he said. “All seven of our seniors are going to be contributing in one way or another. Most of them will be starting and I think others will be role players, but we’re going to get contributions from each one of them.”
Luke Olsen and Christian Buhler, both seniors, were named team captains earlier this week.
They’ll lead the team into its first game of the year, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. today at the first-year Pepsi Cola Soccer Complex. The Eagles open tonight against Custer and play again at 3 p.m. Saturday against St. Thomas More at the Pepsi Cola Soccer Complex. Both games are conference games as the Eagles play in the five-team Interstate-90 Conference, which also has Freeman Academy and James Valley Christian.
After picking up three wins in its first two seasons combined, Lemon said he hasn’t set a specific number for the amount of wins he’s shooting for this year.
However, with a new playoff format this season, Lemon said he wants his team to work toward making the state tournament, which is being held in Mitchell in October.
“It’s a one-game playoff system this year,” said Lemon, whose team failed to finish in the top eight teams in South Dakota each of the past two years and failed to make the state tournament. “This year, if you win, you’re in.”
After the regular season, teams will be seeded based on their records. From there, it will be a one-game playoff and each team that wins is in the state tournament.
“The idea would be to host a game in the playoff, so we’d have to finish in the top eight,” Lemon said.
Olsen, a third-year captain, will be one of the team’s forwards.
Last year, Olsen started at goalie, but was moved to the goal-scoring position early in the year to spark the offense.
That moved Jared Feiner to the net, where he’ll find himself again this year.
“Having Luke on the field utilizes his natural talents,” Lemon said. “He’s a physical and aggressive player and we were handcuffed when he was in goal last year.”
The Eagles have 22 players on their roster this season, and besides its seven seniors there are five sophomores, three eighth-graders and five seventh-graders. There also is one junior and one freshman.
Scott Lemon, a junior, tied with Olsen for the team’s lead in goals last year with four. He is sitting out the year with a season-ending knee injury.