North soccer has quietly played its way to a 10-3-1 record this season. It is not a flashy team. It isn't the fastest team or the team with the biggest, most-athletic players. It is, however, a squad that is fundamentally sound with the talent to win possession battles and maintain leads.
Coach Brent Lewis hopes those attributes will be a factor in tonight's game against Northwest (13-1).
"I think it's going to be a matter of playing solid defense and opportunistic offense — trying to take advantage of the mistakes they make," Lewis said. "We have to try to take advantage of their physical advantages with our defense."
Lewis credits his defense for keeping North's record favorable and providing cushions to take the pressure off of the forwards. It is a team that has allowed very few scoring opportunities to opponents, holding talented offensive teams like Liberal, Kapaun and Heights under two goals in its last three games.
"We've built a really solid defense, and our goalkeeper (senior Gabe Nelson) has been phenomenal," Lewis said. "We've also been patient on offense and have been taking advantage of opportunities. I think that's the key."
North centerback Noel Martinez has been an integral part of the defense that fuels the team. The three-year letterman thinks the biggest reason his team has been successful this year is an unselfish style of play — a direct result of Lewis' leadership.
"We've become a team. We're playing as at team. We've become one," Martinez said. "Last year we weren't playing as a team, and we were just doing our own things. This year we've been working together."
Martinez thinks his team will be able to compete against Northwest, a team that has yet to lose a City League game.
"I think we should be considered one of the top two or three teams in the area right now," Martinez said. "Our team has enough confidence to carry us all the way to state this year. That's how confident we are right now."
Mavericks gear for post season—Maize South (10-4-1) and Rose Hill tied 1-1 on Tuesday. That contest could be used as a measuring stick in how Maize South will fare against the best Class 4-1A schools in next week's regional matches.
I think we played well against Rose Hill," Maize South coach Brian Hutton said. "We 're going have to work on that, but I think we're playing good, fundamentally-sound soccer now. No matter who we play we're going to be a competitive team."
Maize South won four games last season. First-year coach Hutton and his players are looking forward to their first taste of postseason soccer and will probably be a No. 2 seed behind Trinity in the South Central regional. They like their chances.
"With our position and our record and the teams we've played," Hutton said, "I think we're in a good position going into regionals. We can't complain too much at this point."