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Kernel boys soccer is optimistic about 2018

Mitchell's Dillon Robinson (10) and Pierre's Clayton Alban, right, battle for the ball during a high school boys soccer match on Sept. 12, 2017 at Pepsi-Cola Soccer Complex. (Republic file photo)

Mitchell High School is set to begin the 2018 boys soccer season on Saturday and the Kernels are doing so with optimism.

It has been quite some time since Mitchell had a winning record on the pitch, but head coach Ken Novak believes there could be some success on the horizon this fall, particularly since his squad returns 12 lettermen from last season.

After going 2-8-2 a year ago, Mitchell believes it can come up with a few more wins this season and chemistry on the team could be the reason for the potential success.

"I think we'll have more wins than last year," Novak said. "I also think the chemistry on the team is really high and they work well together. They've been really understanding their vision on the field and how each other moves. So I think you'll see a much stronger possession on the field. I also think we'll make sure we don't stall out in the attacking third."

Senior Mark Novak is back to hold down the defensive midfield, while Jon Goldhammer is on the wing and has shown a nice touch on the ball. Meanwhile, Caleb Gebhard, Payne Falor and Beau Schoenfelder comprise the defensive corps, while Tanner Wenz and Landon Peterson are also projected to see time, which should help with possession this season.

Mitchell scored just eight goals a season ago, but this team could be more potent offensively due to the quality of field vision and the quick release of junior striker Dillon Robinson.

This particular Kernel team possesses a much higher soccer IQ than teams in the past, which is going to help with possession time and more quality shots on goal, coach Novak said. Some of that is also due to a strong culture and love of soccer being built within the program.

"Another part of that vision has to do more culturally, understanding where we, as a group, are going," Novak said. "I think one the greatest challenges any coach has is building culture in their organization and I feel really strong about the culture these young men have exhibited and they do have a vision about self-improvement, they have a vision about competing and they have an understanding about how they love the beautiful game."

Mitchell opens the season at 3 p.m. Saturday against Douglas/Rapid City Christian at the Pepsi Cola Soccer Complex. Once the artificial turf installation at Joe Quintal Field is complete, the Kernels will play their games there.