Injuries to starters, including ones with broken bones, could rattle some soccer coaches. But Buhler’s Tim Harris has a roster of 14 seniors to lean on, especially after goalkeeper Tyler Maxwell broke his hand in a game last week.
“We have a team that has been adapting all year,” said Harris, whose team is 8-3. “It comes down to the kids doing what they have to do to succeed.”
During the first week of the season, one of Buhler’s starting defenders, Tanner Webster, broke his leg. Buhler started 0-2, then won seven consecutive games before falling to Hutchinson.
“We had a little setback with Hutchinson on Thursday, but we have six more games,” Harris said. “We play a really hard schedule … hopefully the schedule will help us down the road when we get to regionals.”
Bransyn Felty leads the team in scoring with 22 goals and 11 assists. Up top, Alex Darrow has helped create chances for Felty, as well as putting in nine goals himself.
Brandon Lang and Drew Janzen support the offense and defense in the midfield, which has been critical. Cole Younger maintains the defense with Ky Nixon, and juniors JT Gehling and Garrett Wilkinson filling in for Webster.
Obvious improvements — When Dylan Gruntzel took the coaching position at East (8-3), he knew something had to change. East has already won more games than did last year, as well as defeating Kapaun (7-4) and North (6-2-2).
“In the last couple of years we didn’t have that much success, so I sat down with my assistants and said, ‘Let’s just tear it all apart and rebuild it the way we want to do it,’ ” Gruntzel said. “This year all the guys believe they can win. I think that’s half the battle, motivating yourself to believe you can beat any team.”
The offense is led by Jonathan Alvarado with four assists and freshman Brayan Martinez with six goals. The midfield depends on Abel Madrigal and Emilio Montanez, who focus on distributing the ball up top and outside to Nick Cho for crosses into the middle. The defensive strategy is to combine Cale Martin, David Martinez, Jacksen Petersen and George Depew as a unit.
“Our defense and midfield is pretty good, but finishing is where we need to improve,” Alvarado said. “I feel like we’re getting it together now.”