FBCS soccer looks to rebound

Published 7:05 pm Saturday, August 18, 2012

Nathan VanDorn, center, works with First Baptist Christian School alumnus Steven Glover to keep the ball from a competing team’s player in action last year.

By Titus Mohler

Seeing fall on the horizon yields the glimmer of new hope for the First Baptist Christian boys varsity soccer team after a difficult 2011 season.

The Crusaders logged only a single game in the win column last year.

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“It was a rough year, especially since we did have six or seven graduating seniors,” head coach Steven Milner said.

Milner takes over for retiring coach George Martin who was affectionately known as “Granddaddy” among the student body.

An early bright spot for the new season, though, is that the boys team has more students from which to form a full squad.

“In the past and last year, we did have a couple females playing because of our squad size,” Milner said. “However, this year, our squad size is big enough to where it’s only male.”

Fourteen out of the 20 players on the roster are brand new to the team.

Milner noted that building trust between new teammates would be a key challenge this year. He cited the importance of cultivating what he described as “the cohesiveness, the trust between the players to work with each other to do the give-and-go’s and different things like that.”

Strong conditioning and the four seniors on the roster will play a key role this season.

“One of the greatest strengths — and it’s going to be something I’m definitely working on these next couple weeks — is going to be endurance and leadership from the older players,” Milner said.

One of those older players is senior captain Nathan VanDorn.

“He’s our keeper,” Milner said, “and so for him being in goal and leading that defense from the goalie spot is going to be one of our main focuses this year.”

A player to watch will be sophomore midfielder Caleb Hayes.

“It’s his first year at First Baptist,” Milner said, “and he has some good skills and he can improve greatly this season, and I think he will.”

Milner expects fresh life to course through the offense as well.

“Our standout forward this year is going to be a freshman, Kenneth Barrick,” he said. “His athleticism and his speed will wreak havoc on (defenses) this year.”

Milner has a goal in mind and expressed his willingness to go to certain lengths to motivate his players to meet it and improve upon the rough 2011 campaign.

“I’m definitely hoping to rebound from that. My goal is to at least get back to .500 this year, if not better,” he said. “I will offer a challenge to my players at the next practice that if they win the end-of-the-year tournament they can shave my head.”

The Crusaders’ fresh start begins at home Aug. 28 at 4 p.m. against Gateway Christian School.