With a record of 3-0, the Maize South soccer team is one win away from equaling its victory total from its entire season in 2009. The Mavericks went 4-12 last year in their first season of play with mostly the same group of players that has wins over McPherson and Arkansas City this season.
To get the best out of his players, coach Brian Hutton tweaked the team's formation to fit his players' abilities and changed a few positions. The new-look Mavericks are a team that can control possession in games and play the role of the aggressor.
"We put some people in some positions that I think are going to use their strengths a little more efficiently," Hutton said. "Our formation is a little more offensive-minded and fits the power of our team. We have a lot of speed and skill."
The team's base formation, which was a flat back 4-4-2, is a 4-3-3 with the Maverick's stronger and more athletic players leading the charge.
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"I like it," senior midfielder Jake Sayre said. "We're actually getting more chances at the goal and we're scoring. That's what's winning the games for us right now. That and strong defense."
For forward Ian Blankinship, the change in the team's style of play and attitude stems from offseason work.
"We've been taking it in stride. We feel really good about this season," Blankinship said. "We spent a lot of time in the weight room and just conditioning. We can run harder and faster. It's been good for us."
Northwest wants to get back to top — Northwest put in a convincing 2-0 win over Emporia to start off the season, but its 1-0 loss to Maize in the opening round of the Titan Classic seemed to cut deep for some of the players.
Northwest gave up the goal within the first 90 seconds of the match, and it was a mental mistake that that didn't sit well with junior midfielder Broc Cramer.
"We let them get the goal early and we couldn't bounce back," Cramer said. "We had several chances and we didn't take advantage of them."
Despite the quick goal, the leaders of the team have a strong sense of confidence in the team's chemistry and its keeper Jonathan Lane.
"Jonathan's great. He talks a lot," Northwest senior defender Robert Rawlings said. "We have great communication."
Cramer believes in the team's abilities. He's also looking forward to a certain rematch.
"I believe we're at the top with everyone else," Cramer said. "We're up there with Maize and Dodge City and Southeast. I think we've got enough talent to compete and we've shown that. We play Maize again. We play Southeast."