Fired-up Meadowdale hoping to build on its early success | Boys soccer

Mavericks score impressive victory over Marauders
By David Pan | Mar 22, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Meadowdale’s Ebrima Sidibeh battles for the ball against a pair of Mariner defenders during a nonconference game Tuesday, March 13, at Goddard Stadium.

Two weeks into the 2018 season, Meadowdale already has effectively buried the memories of last year.

The Mavericks were coming off a tough 2017 campaign that saw the team post only one victory in 16 games.

Meadowdale matched that number last week with a 1-0 victory over Mariner Tuesday, March 13, at Goddard Stadium.

Head coach Mike Nelson liked just about everything he saw from his team against a Wesco 4A team that is a perennial district playoff squad.

“I saw a team that came out fired up,” Nelson. “They were laying their bodies on the line. Everyone was fighting for each other. They were playing as a team. They never gave up no matter what challenges they faced during that whole game. It was a great team win for us overall.”

The Mavericks look very much like the team that went 0-10-2 in the league and 1-13-2 overall last season. That team was composed largely of juniors, sophomores and even some freshmen.

Nelson said that it was challenging having so many younger players.

“So the team we have back, it’s all veterans now at this point,” the Meadowdale coach said. “We have a lot of experience – playing minutes-wise, game-wise and it’s really showing out there. The chemistry these guys playing again together on this high school team and just the experience they have now going from last year to this year, it’s really shown that we’ve grown as a team and as individuals.”

Nine of the 11 starters are back. The roster includes nine seniors and five juniors. But it was a sophomore and freshman that stood out in the victory. In his first high school game, freshman forward River Stewart scored the lone goal.

“It was a good way to start it off,” Nelson said.

Sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Houk recorded the shutout. Houk’s biggest save of the night came when he pounced on a Mariner penalty kick

Houk started as a freshman but then was injured about halfway through the regular season.

“He was missed when got injured last year,” Nelson said. “His presence back out here has been a big addition to our ability to protect the box, protect the goal.”

Though he’s only a sophomore, Houk possesses a veteran mentality.

“He’s a guy who can take control. He’s not afraid to take control even at a young age as a freshmen,” Nelson said. “He controls the box. He has good reflexes. He has the length and the size for it. He really has that kind of keeper mentality.”

A key player in the backline is senior Dominic DeSanto, a 6-foot-3 defender.

“He’s a grown man out there,” Nelson said. “He can be an imposing presence when other teams see him. He plays like it too. He’s a great player to have in the backline. He’s not afraid to get into the mix and go up for the balls in the air.”

Junior Jacob Sessler, junior Baboucarr Sowe and senior Javier Ramirez, along with DeSanto all had a solid defensive performance against the Marauders, Nelson added. “They played as a unit and kept the ball out of the defensive third.”

Nelson expects junior Cole Jackson and senior Ebrima Sidibeh to be play important roles in the midfield.

“They were solid all game,” he said. “Up top we were applying pressure. We were getting the shots off we needed to get off.”

It will probably take more than one victory for the perception of the Mavericks to change. Before the season, Nelson pulled up last year’s standings for the players to see.

“We’ll go into each game with a chip on our shoulders like we have to prove ourselves every single day,” Nelson said. “We have to have that mentality, that kind of bulldog mentality going into every single game.”

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