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MC/MV, Kernels soccer teams miss playoffs

Mitchell’s Niko Arnold (19) fights for possession of the ball with Aberdeen Central’s Michael Brick (10) during a high school soccer match on Sept. 21 in Mitchell. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

The high school soccer season has come to an end for Mitchell High School and Mitchell Christian/Mount Vernon, with all three area teams falling short of the state playoffs.

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For the boys, MHS finished the season at 2-9-2 under first year coach Jason Wear. The Kernels concluded having lost their final six games.

Coach Bob Lemon led the MC/MV boys to a 2-9-1 record. Lemon has been the head man for MC/MV since its origin six years ago and has been a part of high school soccer in Mitchell since 1993.

Kayla Braffet finished her first year as coach of the MHS girls’ team, which improved dramatically from the start of the season, winning two of its final three games. The Kernel girls wrapped up their year with a 3-9-1 record, just falling short of the state playoffs.

After starting on a high note in 2013, with a win over Freeman Academy and a draw against St. Thomas More, the Kernel boys found tough sledding the rest of the season as inconsistent play plagued them at times.

“I am proud of this group,” Wear said about his team after coaching his first year at Mitchell. “As a coach, you always shoulder the disappointment. I just wanted to get more wins for these seniors.”

In net for Mitchell, goalkeeper Cole Carlson kept his team in games where the offense found possession hard to come by. Carlson was in net for both MHS wins, including a shutout over MC/MV.

“Cole was the backbone of our team,” Wear said, “He was the reason we won games. Even the games we lost would have been much worse if Cole hadn’t made spectacular saves.”

Going forward, Wear is anxious to see how his young players respond. The Kernels are losing six seniors and Mathias Pedersen, who is an exchange student at Mitchell from Denmark.

Youth was on display for MC/MV

With just one senior on the team, coach Lemon had to rely on youth in 2013 to navigate through a tough schedule.

With two convincing wins over Chamberlain sprinkled in, the MC/MV team’s season was highlighted by a late season tie against Freeman Academy.

“We had to overcome a lot of adversity throughout the season due to injuries and graduation,” Lemon said.

Lemon praised his team’s effort from an 8-0 loss to Groton Area this season. MC/MV left with no substitutes and had to finish the game with 10 players after a string of injuries.

“The other team was trying to end the game with the mercy rule but we hung in there and stuck it out,” Lemon said. “That told me a lot about this team’s character.”

Leading MC/MV in scoring was Ethan Cooper with seven goals, while Phil Millar added four goals.

Lemon will have most of his team back next season as Millar was the only senior this season. Millar played a significant role for MC/MV this season and Lemon knows his younger guys will need to step up to replace him in 2014.

This was the second season in which Mitchell Christian and Mount Vernon were a cooperative.

MHS girls show late season polish

In her first season coaching the Mitchell High School girls’ soccer team, Kayla Braffet perhaps learned as much as she taught.

“Going from playing to coaching is a big change, especially learning some of the rules and situations that are used in high school soccer,” said Braffet, who played soccer for South Dakota State University from 2008-11.

“We battled all season and the girls really started to come on strong as the season went along,” Braffett said. “We had a number of girls step up and play significant roles.”

Braffet praised Emily Paulson, led the Kernels with six goals, for her presence on the field when it came to possessing the ball and distributing to her teammates.

Goalkeeper Kristin Pistulka was strong in net for the Kernels keeping Mitchell in games a number of times throughout the 2013 season.

“I am really proud of what she (Pistulka) was able to do this season,” Braffet said adding that Pistulka is also a natural field player for the Kernels.

The Kernel girls narrowly missed the state playoffs, needing a win or tie in the last game of the season against Groton Area. Mitchell lost the game 3-0 to end its season.