Setting up for next season

Wednesday, October 31, 2018
J.J. Okel dribbles the ball up the field for Cassville during district action. Jared Lankford/

Wildcats soccer takes stock in tricky 2018 season

The final whistle sounded on the Cassville soccer season on Oct. 23 with a 3-0 loss to Monett in the district semifinal.

The Wildcats finished 6-16 overall and 0-7 in the Big 8 Conference, but sometimes, numbers can be deceiving.

Cassville lost 8 of its 16 games by one goal.

Seven losses came to state-ranked teams: Fair Grove, New Covenant, Laquey, Springfield Catholic and Monett.

“We were 0-7 in conference,” said Jake Forste, Cassville coach. “We were the only conference team with a losing overall record in what is arguably the toughest Class 2 conference in the state. We had tough losses to Marshfield (2-1 in overtime), Aurora (2-1) and Monett (2-1). We lost to Logan-Rogersville (4-1) and McDonald County (4-1) on the second night of back-to-back games, something we might look into changing moving forward. I think both of these games were one-goal games if we had fresh legs. Unfortunately, both of these games also saw a penalty kick awarded in the first 8 minutes, changing the game script.”

Cassville recorded 42 goals in 2018, which was nine more than 2017, and it allowed 58 goals, which was 2 fewer than 2017.

The Wildcats surrendered 14 goals via penalty kicks (24 percent of total goals allowed).

“Half of these penalty kicks were warranted,” Forste said. “I think Ron and myself would argue the other half were pretty tough breaks. We were only assessed three yellow cards all year, no red cards. The boys handled themselves with class and sportsmanship all season despite several heartbreaking, high-intensity losses.”

Forste said there were several things the Wildcats could hang their hats on this season.

“Defensive intensity was the mantra of this team,” Forste said. “We did not allow Missouri’s third all-time leading goal scorer, [Monett’s Jason Puente], to score in regulation of 160 minutes played. He only scored twice on penalty kicks. We had strong senior leadership and zero discipline issues all year. We will miss this deep and talented group of seniors.”

Forste said he would like to see more players come out for the team next year.

“Having 21 total kids at our peak was simply not enough,” Forste said. “One left due to transportation issues, one moved out midseason and one had an injury. Trying to compete with 18 kids (14 varsity) was a tough break. Having three Cassville-based club teams in addition to all-time high YMCA soccer numbers bodes well for our future. The coaches and I were active over the summer emailing and calling parents of kids we identified as ‘maybes’ will start this process earlier moving forward.

“I’ve known for a long time there were very few soccer players in the class of 2022 (this year’s freshmen). Fortunately, we have six to eight guaranteed players in every class moving forward. With solid recruiting, we will hopefully have 10 freshmen in each class moving forward.”

Looking forward, Forste believes the team will have a large incoming freshman group and three likely day-one starters.

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