Depth playing key role for high flying Titan soccer
Senior Abe Gubler takes on a Murray defender in April. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
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Olympus boys soccer had just suffered a disappointing overtime loss to Murray where a starting center back was sent off, requiring him to miss the next game against local rival Skyline.
“We had guys that stepped in in the backline. That's a scary spot to have a sub normally,” said assistant coach Jeff Sonntag. “For [senior outside back] Matt Lockwood to step in (at center back) and we had different guys less experienced playing fullback and everyone just handled it fine.”
Senior Matt Lockwood, and sophomore Logan Davies at varying moments, stepped in to fill the integral center back position and the Titans didn’t miss a beat defeating the Eagles 2-1 with the lone goal surrendered coming on a penalty at the end of the game.
Jeff said it exemplifies the all-around depth and quality of the team. He added that in their home game against Hillcrest, they had two starting midfielders out and “you wouldn't have known it by the guys that stepped in.”
“That’s the kind of depth we have that we're really grateful for and excited about,” Jeff said.
The Titans depth has been vital in a season that’s seen the team jump out to an 8-2 (4-2 in region) record as of April 14, including a preseason that saw them go 4-0 winning by a combined score of 16-0.
“This preseason start was the best start we've had of any Olympus year,” Jeff said, having been in and around the program since his dad, Chris, became head coach 14 years ago.
Through 10 games with six shutouts, its attack averaging 2.5 goals a game and its only two losses coming in overtime, the Titans are assembling a belief in their capabilities this season.
“Where we have the talent, I think the last step is getting that confidence and that belief there,” Jeff said. “As each game we get better, that confidence is going to come more and more and then by playoffs we're gonna be in a good spot.”
Coaches knew they had a talented and cohesive team coming in with many players plying their trade for the same club, Impact United.
“We all work together with similar coaching styles coming from that club,” said junior center back James Dansie. “We're just good friends, all of us, so it works well playing together with guys that you like.”
What coaches weren’t sure about is how it might come together with a new 4-3-3 formation and the framework of those attacking three.
“It’s been a little trial and error,” Jeff said of the new formation. “But it’s made us more offensive.”
Olympus three starters up front—wide players senior Abe Gubler, junior Tony Fougler and sophomore target man Din Huremovic—have shared the scoring load scoring 21 of the team’s 26 goals through the first round of region play. It included a fantastic team goal to defeat Hillcrest 1-0.
In a region with perennial contenders Murray and Skyline, an improved Hillcrest and a dangerous Cyprus team, the Titans will need to be at their best to gain an advantageous playoff seed for their state tournament run.
Despite the two early overtime losses in region, Chris, the head coach, said the team is starting to click defensively which gives him great confidence going forward.
“Both ends of the ball are coming together and I'm excited for the rest (of the season),” said Chris.