With solid returning experience and good numbers, Thomas More Prep-Marian boys soccer coach Shea Koerner believes the Monarchs could be primed for a big year.
Friday’s season-opening 5-2 win over Wichita Classical at TMP’s Cripplegate Field wasn’t indicative of what Koerner hopes to see from his team throughout the season, but it did give the Monarchs something to build on.
“We need to work on touches a lot, a lot, a lot,” Koerner said. “I think it was a sloppy first win and we can do better that.
“We did well, but it’s one of those things where every game to start the year in the first half our guys are tugging at their jerseys to come out after 10 minutes because it’s hot and they’re not prepared for game speed, and we tried to get them ready for that this week. But it’s a positive thing to get out with the win in that first game and we can build from there.”
The Monarchs return several key pieces from last year’s squad, including Ethan Lang, Sheldon Weber and Logan Shaw.
“We did relatively well (last year),” Koerner said. “We made the playoffs and did well there. We lost a game in Wichita 3-2 on a penalty late in the game.
“We knew we were going to have a strong team this year based on what we did last year. We have a lot of returning players. It’s a good squad. We think we can do some things this year but they’re going to have to want it a little more.”
The Monarchs took a 3-1 lead into halftime Friday before scoring the first two goals of the second half.
Ethan Brummer led TMP with two goals, including one from 30-plus yards out, while Ethan Lang, Logan Shaw and Nathan Wechsler also found the back of the net.
TMP should benefit from a nine-player senior class, Koerner said.
“It’s fantastic,” Koerner said. “They’re getting back into things. They’re excited for their senior year because they want to win games. They know this is it for them. If they can win some games, score some goals, get into the playoffs and go deep, it will be something memorable for them.”
Koerner said the Monarchs have 26 players, allowing them to field a junior varsity team as well.
“That’s good, especially because that gets our younger guys experience when we play people like Great Bend and Garden and Hays and Dodge, the bigger schools that are going to be able to have cuts and have 60 players come out for the soccer team,” he said. “So having 26, especially for as small as we are, that’s fantastic.”
Bobby Cox and Blayne Riedel split time in goal for the Monarchs in the season opener.
“Bobby Cox has been playing keeper all four years,” Koerner said. “Fantastic kid, works hard. Goes to keeper camps in the summer so that he can get better. He started tonight and he did a great job in there. He’s really good at commanding the field and getting to the ball.
“The backup that we put into tonight, Blayne Riedel, he’s a first-year player that just decided to come out and play for us and he’s been showing a lot of good stuff in practice, which is why we gave him some playing time, because he’s earned it.”
Koerner said Dylan Brown and Mike Pritchett, both from Eliis, could also see time in goal.
The Monarchs will play their first road game against Wichita Independent on Monday.