Growing pains aplenty

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Cassville learning lessons, keeping heads up

In today’s win-now culture, it can be difficult for coaches to get athletes to buy in to a program and help raise it to prominence.

This season, the Cassville soccer team is off to a 3-8 start. While no one is particularly happy about that beginning, the Wildcats continue to look at the bigger picture, that lumps taken now will turn into triumphs later down the road.

“We have a very young team,” said Jake Forste, Cassville coach. “Of our 21 players, 10 are freshmen and one is a transfer student. Although we have three returning starters, we have new faces at all 11 spots on the field, [as the three returning starters are playing positions new to each of them].”

With such a young club, the Wildcats coaches knew this season would be one in which winning would not be the metric to define progress. That is not saying they do not expect to win, but until a foundation is built, upward growth is not as possible.

“From where we were on June 1 to now, our growth has been exponential,” Forste said. “Of our varsity rotation, [14 players], we have six freshmen contributors. I have been pleased with the growth of these freshmen, and they have stepped right into some large roles. Our Seven Valleys Soccer Club coaches, [Curtis Ray, Noah Derezotes, Mike Driskill, and Matt Frazier], have done a great job preparing our incoming players so they are playing at a high level from the start as freshmen.”

Forste also pointed out that Cassville is not getting blown out, and the rebuild is ahead of expectations.

“We are 3-2 in one goal games, [an improvement from last year’s mark of 1-8],” Forste said. “Nine of our 11 matches have been determined by two goals or fewer. A couple losses, [New Covenant, Laquey, and Marshfield], we were tied or trailing by one until the final three minutes of play. In those matches, we got caught on counter attacks selling out to tie the game, and very nearly did earn a tie in each. I think this illustrates that overall, we are playing a competitive brand of soccer. We have a few mistakes to clean up in terms of defensive rotations, but even still, this group has come together quickly.”

The Wildcats have placed a premium in practice on improving ball skills, something Forste says fans can see.

“Our ball movement has been extremely good at times. In fact, we are retaining possession as well as any of my four seasons here at Cassville,” he said. “Our issue right now is with consistency, and I think that comes with being a young team. In about half our matches, we have come out on fire the first 20 minutes, really setting a fast and physical tone from the opening kick. In the other half, we have come out flat and not particularly physical. We are working to shore this discrepancy up, and I am confident we can.”

The Wildcats head to Springfield for the Greenwood Tournament on Saturday. Matches begin at 9 a.m. The result from Tuesday’s home contest against College Heights was not available as press time.

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