When Blake Andrews graduated from Maize’s boys soccer team last year, the Eagles had to replace their goalkeeper.
Defensive captain Hayden Morrison didn’t let the position remain open for long, since he remembered watching field player Jeff Light play in goal for his club team.
“The defense was real supportive of him filling that role,” Maize coach Jay Holmes said. “Hayden was the one that came up to me and said, ‘Jeff played goalkeeper on his club team and did a phenomenal job.’ He’s such a versatile player it’s really worked out for us back there.”
The defense has been Maize’s strongest phase this season, leading to seven shutouts and a 9-4-1 record. Aside from Morrison, the defense is filled with new starters including Greg Eno and Ladd Koster.
“What’s been consistent all season is we’ve been playing well defensively,” Holmes said. “I’m surprised at how well they’ve played back there and how many goals they’ve kept out, because they are so new.”
The struggle for Maize this season has been finishing goals, leading to four games won by one goal, despite the 14 goals combined from Angel Dias and Tyler Coleman. Kevin Combs, Blaine Rodman and Caleb Wilcox have created offensive opportunities in the midfield, but aided the defensive unit as well.
“All of our games have been close affairs, but we generate a lot of offensive opportunity with possession, we’ve just had trouble finding the back of the net,” Holmes said.
Key adjustments — When Kapaun Mount Carmel midfielder David Ewers injured his ankle the week before the first game, the Crusaders were forced to adjust. They lost twice early, but now sit second in the City League with an 8-5 record.
“(Ewers) does a whole lot of work in the midfield, without him in the lineup it’s a whole different team,” Kapaun coach Alan Shepherd said. “We’d try somebody at (Ewers’ position), it wouldn’t work out so we’d try somebody else, and to try somebody you had to pull them from another position, so we weren’t in sync at all.”
Ewers returned three games ago, when Kapaun played West.
“His fitness wasn’t there yet and he was 90 percent at that time toward the middle of the season, but other than that it was like he didn’t leave,” Shepherd said. “He controls midfield, so it was nice to have him back.”
Even without Ewers, Kapaun’s midfield has been strong with help from Zach Hanson and sophomores Braeden Marshall and Austin Flores.
Shepherd changed formations against West to increase scoring output, and the Crusaders have scored 12 goals since while allowing three. Rhys Allen leads with eight goals followed by Ian Daley with seven and Logan Wells with four.
“We changed some things because we weren’t scoring very many goals, coupled with the fact that we were making mistakes,” Shepherd said.
Jake Dreiling, and Daniel Kelly lead the defense, along with goalkeeper Logan McCully.
“The kids have been pretty resilient and keep working hard even though things go wrong, and I think that’s a pretty good trait for a team to have,” Shepherd said.