Crusaders kick off season

Published 7:44 pm Saturday, August 14, 2010

First Baptist’s boys soccer squad is both fortunate and unfortunate to have a different home field, for the third time in the program’s young history, heading into the start of its season.

During First Baptist’s girls soccer season in the spring, the school’s goals, then on a field behind the school, which is also Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church, were stolen one night.

The Lady Crusaders continued the remainder of their home matches a couple miles away at Suffolk Youth Athletic Association.

The summer hasn’t yielded any success in finding the stolen goals. Crusader head coach George Martin said the Suffolk Police followed up with him multiple times in the past few months, but it seems any realistic chance of finding the equipment, worth $2,500 when the school purchased them three years ago, has passed.

“There were a few times we got a tip of new soccer goals showing up somewhere. We’d go with the police to the field and look at them, but they weren’t ours,” Martin said.

“Hopefully whoever has them is putting them to good use for a team or sold them and needed the money or used the money for a good reason,” he said.

“SYAA has been good to us letting us play here,” Martin said.

Martin was putting his squad through its paces in the heat and humidity Friday afternoon at SYAA. The Crusaders likely are out to a good head start on a number of the squads they’ll face. Martin started practices in late July, giving the Crusaders about a month of conditioning and working together before their first match.

It’s doubly important for the Crusaders to have the extra preparation time as, with First Baptist being a small private school, many of Martin’s players also play basketball and baseball for the Crusaders. Only three guys on his varsity squad play soccer in other leagues outside of the high school season.

The Crusaders lost three players to graduation, which by itself is a new challenge. The class of ’10 was First Baptist’s first senior class.

“We’ve picked up a few new guys and they’re doing really well. They’ve surprised me, which is great,” Martin said.

The Crusaders went 6-6-1 last season and were led by forward Pete Twisdale, one of the graduated seniors, who finished his high school career with 50 goals.

It’ll be a challenge to make up the scoring, but being less dependent on one player’s offense is something Martin is optimistic about.

“It looks like we’re going to be a better passing team,” Martin said. The team as a whole was in better condition coming into preseason practices, says Martin, so better ball movement and movement, in general, bodes well for the Crusaders.

The Crusaders will open up on their new home field, their home at least for this season, on Thursday, Aug. 26 against Portsmouth Christian.