Boys soccer advances to first round of state playoffs
Last updated 11/3/2021 at Noon
The boys soccer squad hosted Gladstone in a Division 4 play-in game on Saturday, October 30, and walked off the field with a 1-0 win. It was the first time in four years the Outlaws made it to postseason play.
Coach Jeff Husmann shared with The Nugget the atmosphere prior to the game.
“There was an intangible feeling during warm-ups: The boys were focused, and yet relaxed,” said Husmann. “I reminded them that it was a big game, but the bottom line is that they are playing a game; a game they love with a group of guys who believe in each other.”
The Outlaws were dialed in and ready for action, and they controlled the ball and played with a calm intensity from the opening whistle. Sisters was in Gladstone’s end of the field and were a threat most of the first half. The Outlaws passing was sharp, and their movement of the ball had the Gladiators’ defense scrambling.
Ricky Huffman, one of the Outlaws’ speediest players, made it tough for Gladstone, and it took them awhile before they made adjustments to deal with him.
Husmann has noted all season that when the Outlaws play cohesively in the midfield they can compete with anyone, and they proved that to be true.
Aidan Eckert, who has excellent field vision, showed great patience throughout he game. Husmann said that Eckert knows when to hold the ball just enough to draw in defenders before spraying it to an open teammate. Tate Kaczmarek’s work-rate and skill made life tough for the Gladiators all night long. Husmann said that Kaczmarek knows how to find the little spaces to run behind the defense. Gavin Christian, who has been beat up the last week or so, came ready to play, and his movement of the ball kept Gladstone’s defense on their heels.
The Outlaws had several corner kicks in the first half, but just couldn’t get the ball in the net. They entered the half even at 0-0.
Momentum continued in the Outlaws’ favor at the start of the second half. In the 49th minute, Sisters’ super-sub, Will Fogarty, played a beautiful through ball to a charging Huffman. Huffman hammered the ball into the back of the net with a powerful kick, and the home crowd erupted.
The game continued, and the Outlaws’ fitness and work-rate continued to wear down the Gladiator’s defense.
Husmann told The Nugget that the Outlaws’ tenacity was best exemplified in sophomores Vince Christian and Austin Dean.
“Vince had several penetrating runs down the right flank,” said Husmann. “He is so crafty with the ball, and often takes on two or three defenders. He is such a versatile and knowledgeable player. We shift him all around the field, and he finds ways to create and contribute to the offensive threat. Austin is such a physical and scrappy player. He always finds a way to get the ball back and his athleticism and intelligence allow us to play him in a variety of positions.”
Sisters’ defense played a well-organized and disciplined game. Center back Sean Alvarez was rock-solid the entire night, and Gus Patton also played a smart game, as he knows when to stand a player up and when to wait for help.
Husmann told The Nugget that two of the strongest performances came from Noah Pittman and Baylor Dyer.
“Noah has matured so much this season,” said Husmann. “His decision-making was solid tonight. He likes to make runs forward from his outside-back position and helped create some offensive chances. Baylor played his best game of the season. He was brave and physical in defense.”
Husmann added, “Tonight was one of those special moments. I’m incredibly proud of this group of young men.”
The Outlaws face the Huskies at North Marion in the first round of playoffs on Wednesday, November 3.