Southridge soccer programs getting off groundSeptember 10, 2021
By HUNTER TICKEL
Special To The Herald
HUNTINGBURG — Creating a high school soccer team from its inception is arduous.
But doing it simultaneously with two teams — that’s nearly unfeasible.
It’s what Southridge boys and girls soccer coach Brandon Aders is in the process of facilitating.
He heads up these ships in Huntingburg after 15 years with Indiana Southwest Futbol Club — a travel team in Jasper. He was the club’s founder and finished his tenure as president.
After stepping down a year ago from ISFC, he’s all-in with the Raider squads, which were established in 2016. The team was co-ed for four years before both sides split to form teams that would compete in the varsity state tourney, starting this past postseason.
“It’s like building a travel program,” Aders said. “It’s going to take five or six years before we start to see kids come through that ... the middle school has 60 players, so that’s awesome. So that’s the future right there.”
This mixed setup extended down to the recreation leagues before it was revamped to the high school arrangement recently.
“The talent is there, we just got to keep them in from the beginning,” Aders said. “(The middle school) went from eight players playing travel soccer to 37. So, that right there tells me we are doing something right.”
In addition to the travel team in Jasper, players hone their skills at North Spencer Soccer Association and Indiana Fire Juniors South in Evansville.
Playing club ball gets players much-needed touches on the ball, however, working together in a lineup of 11 is still a work in progress.
“Right now, they are their own people,” Aders said. “Individual talent is great but they can’t per se play well with others. They like to hold the ball too long.”
Aders compares it to rec play, where players dribble too much or are taught to feed one player to orchestrate the finished product.
The tactics instilled by Aders are possession-centric.
“More of a team, building from the back kind of a purpose rather to kick and gun it,” Aders said. “That is where they tend to falter. A lot of (individuals) trying to take it down the whole field. I tell them, ‘You’re a freshman and that’s a senior back there on defense. He’s seen this kind before, he’s going to wait until you take the big touch then you’re gone.’ ”
The boys and girls didn’t win a game last year and have yet to win one this year. Last year, there were barriers from COVID-19.
“We didn’t have the numbers, now we have numbers,” Aders said. “We would play some teams 9-v-11. Our sectional championship game for the girls was 7-v-7. It was pretty bad. It was a season I don’t want to ever have to go through again.”
A positive byproduct of the pandemic was ample time on the training ground.
The closest the Raider girls came to a win in August was when it pushed Pocket Athletic Conference foe Princeton to a penalty shootout.
The boys team put together its most complete 80 minutes in a 2-1 loss on Sept. 2 to Class 1A No. 13 Forest Park.
Freshman center midfielder Bryan Cruz, who is paving the way with his play on the pitch as one of 12 first-year players, assisted on freshman midfielder Christopher Gomez’s goal in that game.
“(Building the program) means a lot to me because I’ve grown up around here,” Cruz said. “I watched my older brother (Luis Flores) play at Southridge, and bring it up from nothing. It just means a lot to me to fill in his shoes. Like my teammates, it means a lot to us because we grew up watching them and everything like that. We’ve always dreamed about winning state. We always talk about it to this day.”
Sophomore keeper Pablo Mora, who typically plays in midfield, stepped between the pipes in relief duty to limit the Rangers to two finishes.
“That was a game that things started to click,” Aders said. “(Then), they went down to Mater Dei and I was missing my goalie — the starting goalie (senior Nolan Schoenbachler), I had to redo everything. I was missing four players because still in their culture if their family says they have to do something, they have to do that. It’s not like you can say, ‘If you don’t go to do this, you’re not going to play.’ If you did that you wouldn’t have a team.”
A culture shift is what Aders is jostling with. When you are already low on numbers, this process sputters.
He said some matches are devoid of parents on the sideline. That should swing the other way with middle school parents present at their kids’ matches.
Both teams have youth getting vital experience that could blossom in the coming years. The girls have 12 underclassmen and eight freshmen.
Senior captains Maddy Lau, a midfielder, and Melissa Macias, a forward, have been the mentors for their squad the first two years as a full side.
“Honestly, in future years, the soccer team is just going to be amazing for the girls,” Macias said. “I feel like a lot of the girls honestly tell me they look up to me and that they just trust me. I feel like know that they know me more and trust me more, I hope to see them in the future. I hope they just keep trying hard.”
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