Boys’ soccer preview: A POTENT ATTACK
By BRANDON HURLEY
An emphatic introduction to the “beautiful game”greeted the viewing public Monday evening.
The Greene County Rams soccer team made their presence known, unleashing a high-octane offense on the unsuspecting Humboldt April 2 in Grand Junction.
The Rams kicked off the inaugural year behind a throng of talented athletes, as head coach Carl Behne expects his guys to score, and at will. They won’t spend their first season sitting back waiting for the action.
“We are definitely very strong offensively, there’s a high potential for us to score a lot of goals,” the coach said. “Especially with the front six that we have, we are going to be potent.”
Soccer interest had been lingering for some time in Greene County. It all came to a reality last spring when the school board approved the addition of the sport, setting in motion a string of fundraisers and public awareness campaigns.
Now is the perfect moment to strike when the iron is hot.
“Certainly there’s been a lot of youth interest over the years long before I moved to the community six years ago. I know there were parents and their kids that tried to get something together,” Behne said. “I don’t think in Jefferson it’s anything new, it’s just kind of had an underlying pulse for 10 plus years. And now is the right time.”
Behne expects a bit of a learning curve as his pool of athletes come together. With more than 30 players out for the initial team, it becomes quite the task fitting all the pieces as one. In previous years, the Rams had shipped a select few over to Boone for varsity competition, but many still refrained from making the jump. The 2018 addition allows those aspiring young futbolers to take a swing at the top-tier. The youth programs instilled a general knowledge of the sport, now its a matter of reintroducing the game to some.
The challenge is bridging that gap between youth soccer and the varsity level. Behne said more than a handful of kids gave up soccer after middle school.
“They begin to diverge to other programs, there’s a gap of competitive soccer,” Behne said, the Greene County Medical Center CEO. “That’s probably the biggest challenge, some pick it back up quicker than others. We’ve got some kids that are quite capable, by and large, and we’ve got some leaders on the team.”
Calling on his repertoire of masterful forwards is vital as the Rams start from the ground up. They’ll be most dangerous with the ball at their feet, Behne said.
“With the skill-set up front, our motto is going to be ‘attack, attack, attack,” the coach said, who has continued to play the game of soccer in local rec leagues. “Good things happen at this level if you shoot the ball.”
Keeping it in possession with the likes of Isaiah Losee (a starter on last year’s Boone squad) as well as Marques and Austin Delp, could be instrumental. Behne wants his guys to be aggressive, but smart at the same time.
“We want to limit our turnovers,” the coach said. “We are really focusing on the first six seconds after a turnover, how we are putting pressure to get the ball back,”
Gilbert (16-3) was the only Heart of Iowa Conference team above .500 last spring, riding a wave of success to the state tournament, where they advanced to the 1A quarterfinals.
The Tigers were ninth in 1A with 60 goals scored while they allowed a mere 12 goals, which was tied for the third-best total in the state.
Gilbert senior Jason Taylor returns as the league’s top goal-scorer with 14 a year ago while Nevada’s Brendan Sellberg chipped in 13.
North Polk’s Christopher Martinez is the top returning keeper, saving 68 shots as a freshman.
With the way the conference is laid out, Behne envisions a double-digit win total in the Rams’ first foray into soccer.
Four of Greene County’s first five games are at home, hosting non-conference foes twice in the opening week, Humboldt on Monday and Carroll on Thursday, April 5.
That schedule will be a calling card for the Rams, as they’ll be tested early and often. There’s no sneaking through their first season.
“Our goal is to be very competitive in our conference,” Behne said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to play a lot of 2A teams on our schedule, it could help our seeding.”
Hopefully, that gauntlet leads to a strong postseason showing, Behne said. The expectations are high, and the volunteer coach wouldn’t have it any other way.
“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t dream big, these boys are very excited for the program,” Behne said. “They want to show people that our program should be here.
After snagging a thrilling, 4-3 overtime a win against Humboldt in their home-opener Monday, more history is there for the taking.
Greene County welcomes Carroll to town tonight (April 5) while the Rams open the conference slate April 24 on the road at defending-champion Gilbert. The home conference-opener is slated for April 30 against PCM.