Times Sports Editor
A brand new season commences this evening for boys' soccer teams in the area as sectional play begins at Terre Haute North High School.
The Northview Knights come in on a three-game winning streak with victories against conference goes, Brown County, South Vermillion and Sullivan. Tonight, Northview gets a crack at another WIC opponent that got away in West Vigo, which took a 3-2 decision versus the Knights back on Sept. 3.
While the season got off to a difficult beginning over a 14-match losing streak to open the year, coach Don Bryan feels that picking up some wins heading to the postseason has provided a much needed boost of confidence.
"I think that there was nothing else that we needed (more)," Bryan said of the wins. "We like our players, it's a great group of guys. They put a lot of time in, but the chemistry was just slow to go. They realized that they could play at the level they needed to play. You couldn't have asked for a much better draw than what we've got.
"We can be competitive with (Terre Haute) South and we can be competitive with North if we'll play soccer," Bryan added. "We seem to step up sometimes when we're playing teams that are better and when we're playing teams that maybe aren't as good we seem to shrink back down."
As the team came together over the course of the season, some early injuries played a role in slowing the team's natural cohesiveness that simply comes with playing together. Bryan credited experience as playing a large role in Northview getting some victories under its belt heading into tonight's match against the Vikings.
"I think the chemistry has gotten better. I didn't think at the beginning of the season that it would take this long to kind of work in together," Bryan said. "With Josh Lynch's hamstring (injury) he's basically only been able to get half the games in and that definitely hurt. But I commend the other seniors, they've kept their heads up, put their cleats on and played. Drew (Snyder) has played extremely well and I'm pleased with him. James (Bryan) has played well, Jordan (Nelson) has played well and (Robert) Joslyn has finally got going."
Those seniors have all played a huge role this year and will be pivotal in the sectional along with classmates, Marc Schmidt, Ryan Hines and Bry Bell. Leadership on the pitch becomes invaluable this time of year and Bryan feels that a number of players will be looked upon to push their teammates to a higher level of play.
"I think Drew (Snyder) continues in (a leadership) role. Alex (Frankville) has done extremely well playing back, it's not his ideal position and in an ideal world that's not where I would put him," Bryan admitted. "But putting James (Bryan) back there the last two years wasn't exactly where I wanted him, but that's where we needed him. I think Alex has accepted that and he understands that to play at the next level, which Alex wants to, that's what you have to do."
Several Knights have aspirations of playing college sports and Bryan pointed out that the athletes have the ability to continue their careers at the next level.
"We've got three seniors, really four, who are looking to play at the next level," Bryan said. "Josh (Lynch) is looking to play at Greenville where we've gone to camp, Drew (Snyder) is debating on whether he's going to play golf or soccer, but he's looking at (the University of) Southern Indiana. James (Bryan) is going to go to Vincennes and play with their club down there. There is possibilities out there and we have kids coming up so I don't think we have to rebuild, it's just reload and it'll be finding positions and things like that so we'll go from there."
As for tonight's match-up against the Vikings, Bryan feels that the Knights have improved since the last meeting and area ready to pick up a victory to continue the team's season.
"I think we're definitely playing better now than we were when we saw (West Vigo)," Bryan said. "I know, in the conference, (West Vigo) finished 3-3 and the two teams at the top, Edgewood and Brown County were 5-1 and we gave Brown County their one loss. We were in the Edgewood game, but it was one of those games where we just couldn't get anything to fall. The blame has to come back to us just not taking care of things when we had the chance."
Schmidt gave Northview a 1-0 lead, but the Vikings rebounded with goals from Javier Terrazas, Trevor Kelsheimer and Brice McFaddin scored the next three goals for the Vikings. Lynch gave the Knights a chance with a second half goal with just 1:02 left in the match, but Northview couldn't get the equalizer.
Bryan placed the emphasis on winning the 50/50 plays and maintaining intensity throughout the contest.
"We've got to get to the ball. We've got to get positive touches on it and when we get into the offensive zone we just have to make quality shots and continue to get good shots," Bryan said. "We just can't afford to let little things bug us and stay positive. We've come this far, you hope it will continue that way."
After tonight's single match, sectional play continues on Saturday as Terre Haute North takes on South Vermillion at 10 a.m. followed by Terre Haute South against the winner of this evening's match. The championship game will be played at 6 p.m. on Saturday.