Thrilled for Midfield

Rylan Perkins and Heidi Banaschak

With the season of the East men’s soccer team just underway, there are many opportunities and expectations to look forward to. Head coach Brad Barber and senior Eric Stiles have many thoughts on this season, including a strong midfield, and great finishes. Finishing and the midfield are strengths noticed early on by Barber. 

As for finishing, the boys scored two goals from outside 30 yards on Aug. 19 against Floyd Central. But a strong midfield is only common knowledge at this point, with Stiles and senior Jorge Nieto playing. 

Stiles and Nieto are leaders of the team this season, chosen by their teammates. The coaches ask players who will be good examples when moving forward in the program. Stiles was an honorable mention at State, with Nieto climbing up on the all-time scorer list in East history. 

“One of the strongest midfields in the state,” Barber said. 

However, the importance of a strong midfield stretches further than one may think. This is known because in Barber’s eyes, if the team wins the midfield battle, often times they win the game. 

At the Center Grove game on Monday, the midfield helped “jump starting our attack by creating tough balls and creating combinations wide” says Barber. In other words, it means good players in the midfield means good opportunity. Of course midfield is not everything, though. There are many moving pieces in making a good team.

You cannot finish talking about the strengths of this team without mentioning arguably the most important player on the field, the goalkeeper, senior Zach Roberts. Roberts has played keeper his four years at East. He is also climbing up on the All Time Shutout List.

On the other hand, like all teams, weaknesses are noticed by the head coach.

“This includes moving our feet to put ourselves into a position to winning 50/50 balls and making play predictable on the defensive side,” Barber said. 

When interviewing Eric Stiles, returning team captain, the “disappointing defeat” that the boys got hit hard by last season at Sectionals against Jeffersonville became well-known. This season, the boys are hoping to overcome this defeat and also gain a win or two when facing their two largest rivals: Columbus North and Bloomington South.  Therefore, according to Stiles, the boys are expected to win both Conference and Sectionals this season. 

“We really need to focus on just finding each other’s strengths and weaknesses and working to build the weaknesses and build upon the strengths,’ Stiles said. 

With these growths, the team will overcome new challenges that come with a new season.  Together, they will work on qualities that will make them communicate better and work harder to earn some well deserved victories. 

As highlighted by Stiles, the feeling of warming up together at the beginning of a game is what makes the whole team feel encouraged to play their hardest. That is when they feel that they are truly a team. The rivalry continues Thursday against the Bulldogs, when North and East face each other on the soccer field.  Come support your Olympians as we burn the Bulldogs.