Saturday, August 21, 2010

A New Season with High Expectations

Well a new season starts on Monday and for the first time I am starting to see a resemblance of the team I thought we could be. Over the summer we played 18 games and went 14-4 against one of the toughest summer schedule we have ever went up against.

However, injuries have taken a toll on us through the first 10 days of practice. Four returning starters have missed significant time so far and we really haven't had a lot of time as a complete unit.

A lot of teams that lost 1 Division I player and 4 Division II players may have a good excuse to struggle. But at QHS, we feel we have prepared the kids we have to step in and replace the players we lose. While we will miss the players we graduated, I am excited about what this year will bring.

The Blue Devils of 2010 will be far different than what we have been in the past. Gone are the tall trees and they have been replaced by young men with exceptional speed. In 2009 we intimidated teams with our size and in 2010 we will blow teams away with our impressive team speed.

It is going to be a great season and one that will test us from start to finish. I hope you check in often on us and follow us in what we expect to be a a fun year.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Highs and Lows of high School Soccer

We have worked so hard this year and great things were coming to us. We were 13-0-1 heading into the biggest weekend of the year so far and were finally receiving national recognition. It was a stiff challenge ahead and one we had been waiting for. Just how well would the Blue Devils do at the Gateway City Soccer Classic in Collinsville? In our bracket of 8 teams were 4 teams ranked in the top 50 in the nation. 1 from New York, 2 from Colorado, a 6 time consecutive state champion from Kansas, and a back to back state champion from Missouri. We were going to find out exactly what we were made of.

We opened our bracket with a tough Rockwood Summit team from St. Louis. We played well and got a goal in each half for a 2-0 victory. In the semi-finals, we played against Rockhurst Jesuit from Kansas City. Rockhurst has won back to back Missouri state titles and were a top 25 team in the nation. After an evenly contested first half, Rockhurst came out firing at us. We withstood their best shot and the last 15 minutes of the game we came right after them and just couldn't put one in the back of the net. With the game going to PK's, we were on the horizon of one of our biggest wins in program history. We made 4 PK's and Logan Miller stopped 2 and we picked up that victory. It was the type of victory that we needed to prove to a lot of people, including ourselves, that we really do have a solid team.

In the finals of our bracket stood St. Thomas Aquinas of Overland Park, KS. Aquinas has won 6 consecutive state titles and was ranked #7 in the nation. We played right with them and did a great job on defense against their set pieces, which they are extrememly good at. With 10 minutes remaining, they had a player beat us to the ball at about the 6 yard line and rifle one home,giving them the championship and us our first loss of the season.

Despite losing, I think it set in to our kids that they did belong, but also had work to do. At least I thought it did.

On Tuesday the national rankings came out and we had moved from #47 to #29 and that was great for not only these young men but the program in general. Rankings really mean nothing, but it is nice to have your name included among the nations elite and something QHS has not had happen for a while. As I sit here writing this, I still get irritated at the events that transpired last night.

Last night was the 2nd game of the inter city rivaly with QND. We won the first meeting 2-0 and on paper, should have won this one as well. But lets face it, it is QHS vs QND, and games aren't played on paper. We had beaten QND the last 7 times we had faced them and QND was out to stop that streak. We played very well early in the game but never really mounted any good opportunitites. If we can manage to put in a goal in that first 20 minutes, I think we cruise to an easy victory. However, we didn't and that just gave QND more confidence. At half-time Coach Longo talked about lots of things, but there were two things I said to them that I wanted to get across. First off, I told them that the difference between todays player and the teams myself and the other coaches played on, is that when we were the better team, we didn't let teams hang around. We stepped on their throat and put them out of their misery early. The second thing was, one of these days your going to let a team hang around and they are gonna score on you and your gonna get beat.

Well, 13 minutes into the 2nd half, QND capitalized on a mistake we made and they scored a goal. We were behind for just the 3rd time all year, but this was QND and you know that kids from QND are gonna play hard. We controlled the better part of the play the last 20 minutes, missing 3 or 4 very good goal soring opportunities. The final result, QND 1and QHS 0. Vince Lombardi said it best, "We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. "

I looked around at our kids after it was over and I saw two different expressions on their face. Some had the look of disbelief as to what just happened and others were doing everything in their power not to let the tears flow. Losing is tough, but it's even tougher when it is to QND. We had to stand on their field and watch them and their fans celebrate at our expense and also listen to some of their fans chant Overrated.

I never would have imagined this team would lose back to back games this season nor that we would be shut out 3 times in a row. But it has happened and all we can do now is move on. Walt Disney said it best I think, "You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."

We now need to focus on Rock Island and getting back on the winning path. We have 3 regular season games left before post-season and we are still one heck of a team. Every team faces adversity along the way, and it is how you respond to it that people will remember. "Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time."

I believe that out of this disappointment will rise a better team. "It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

3 Games, 3 Wins, 3 Shut-outs

First of all, let me say I am way glad we are done with one day road trips for a while. Five in a row is tough on everyone, but made easier when you win. Our week was full of tense moments and interesting developments for sure.

Tuesday saw us again move up in the Adidas/NSCAA region VII rankings to #7. We also for the first time were mentioned in the ESPNRise Illinois rankings, coming in at #5.

On Tuesday we were also on the road for a conference game at U.T.H.S and it was more of a battle than we expected and then some. It started out bad when Ethan Venvertloh was unable to play because of an injury from Saturday. We adjusted to that pretty well, but 5 minutes into the game, Zach Forbes busted open his lip and had to go to the ER for 10 stitches. Being one person down is bad, but being down 2 really puts you in a tough spot. We got a lot of great minutes from kids on our bench and some of them grew up that night. We battled all night and with 4 minutes left in the game, we saw our life pass before our eyes. UTHS hit one off the crossbar that if it were 2 inches lower, would have been a goal. We managed to get to OT and at that time, here comes Zach Forbes back from the ER. Rather than throw him in on defense, we put him up front. Wouldn't you know it, just 1 minute into OT, Zach got the ball on the wing, took it down the field and crossed it to Matt Burrus who got the golden goal winner and improved our WB6 streak to 22 games.

On Friday, we traveled to Springfield High and for the first time all year, had to have a stern talk at half-time. We have told them time and time again about moving the ball, and for whatever reason, we continue to try and dribble through teams. When we move the ball like we are capable, we are a tough team to beat. The 2nd half was much better. Gavin Schaefer and Bronson Melvin each scored for a 2-0 victory.

Saturday we hosted Rock Island Alleman and had no idea what to expect. On Tuesday, they had lost to Moline in OT and maybe they would be better than we initially thought. It wasn't to be as we scored early and often and won 8-0. Better yet, 8 different players scored goals and four others recorded an assist. The 3 victories moved us to 12-0-1.

This upcoming week we host Macomb on Monday before heading to Collinsville for the Gateway City Soccer Classic. The classic will test us in 3 very competitive games. No team in our bracket has more than 1 loss on the season, and at least four teams will be ranked in the top 50 in the nation. In our bracket, there are teams from Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and New York. Should be a lot fun.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another great week for Blue Devil Soccer!!!!

The 2009 soccer season has been a pleasant surprise up to this point. Who would have thought that the combined record of our 3 teams would be 23-1-1? That is impressive I think. Not to mention, for the first time since 1995, the Blue Devil varsity team is being mentioned in the Region rankings. Two weeks ago we were #13 in the Adidas/NSCAA region VII rankings and last week we were up to #11. When the rankings come out next Tuesday, we could see a big jump as several teams above us lost last week, including 3 teams from Illinois that were ahead of us.

Now, if you ask coach Longo, he will say that while these rankings are nice to have, he is more concerned about where we finish the season as opposed to what people think about us during the season. I couldn't agree more! However, I think it is a great accomplishment for these young men who have worked so very hard to get our program where it is today. I can only hope that they continue to work hard to stay in the rankings and prove they are truly worthy of being there. Every team is gunning to beat Quincy High and we will need to bring our A game every time.

As for our games last week, it saw us take to the road twice to play two very good teams at the varsity level who both were state runner-up in their respective state and class in 2008. On Tuesday we traveled to Springfield to play Sacred Heart-Griffin and we were a bit undermanned as we played without our sweeper Zach Forbes. Coach Longo always feels that no 1 player is irreplacable and when your number is called, you need to be ready to step in. That is exactly what Jake Killday did for us on Tuesday. Jake had been coming off the bench to play forward for us and was doing well. However, we needed him at sweeper this game and he played great. We moved the ball well against SHG and should have scored 2 or 3 goals in the first half as we missed some golden chances. In the second half, Matt Burrus made a great play in the middle of the field and found Ethan Venvertloh open on the left and Ethan gave us a 1-0 lead with 15 minutes left. The joy lasted about 10 seconds as that is all it took for SHG to come down and tie things up. It was a comedy of errors on our part starting with our forwards and ending with our GK. At least 6 players blew an opportunity to stop that goal from happening and none were up to the task. Rather than sulk about it, we stepped up the pressure and Taylor Nord put us ahead to stay with a goal with about 5 minutes remaining. It was a good road win and only the 2nd loss of the year for SHG, whose other loss was to nationally ranked and defending state Champion Peoria Notre Dame. Our JV won on this night as well 3-0 and it was good for them as their previous game against Moline was not a real good effort and resulted in our only loss thus far in the season.

On Saturday we traveled to Jefferson City to take on the defending Missouri Class 2 state runner-up Helias Crusaders. We tied them 2-2 last year and they were undefeated coming into the game. It took us quite a while to sort things out in this game. Their field was very hard and very fast and we just didn't adjust real well. We also had a hard time staying onside, and it just was one of those games. We battle through the first half scoreless and worse yet, only had 1 shot the entire half, and it wasn't a good one. We almost had to plead with them at halftime to play with more passion and intensity. The 2nd half was much better and with 15 minutes to go in the game, we finally caught their defense sleeping on a throw in and Matt Burrus crossed the ball to a wide open Bronson Melvin who headed it home. It was a great moment, not only because we finally got on the board, but because it was the first career goal for Bronson, who is a FRESHMAN! Our defense played great throughout as usual and Matt Burrus was able to seal the game with a late goal to give us a 2-0 victory and run our record to 9-0-1.

The JV team won 5-1 getting 2 goals from Patrick Bentzinger and single goals from Joe Bevelheimer, Alan Sieck, and TyReek Scott.

The Freshman also played at Helias and improved their record to 8-0-1 with a 2-0 victory.

The varsity will be on the road twice again next week when we go to UTHS on Tuesday and Springfield High on Friday. We also host Rock Island Alleman on Saturday.

It's homecoming week this week so check out the parade on Thursday and catch the football game on Friday. The football team is 4-0 on the season and we are pretty proud of their efforts too.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What a week!!!!!

This week of soccer was very successful at all levels for QHS and what a what a week it was. The week started off with the inter city rivalry against QND. Our varsity team came out a bit flat but once we got going, it was evident we were the better team. Ethan Venvertloh got us on the board in the first half with a rocket from about 25 yards out that I don't think the QND keeper ever saw until it was too late. Zach Forbes added a goal in the second half on a header to make for the final score of 2-0. Our defense was again stellar and Logan Miller got his 5th shutout of the season. As always, the game was played with a lot of intensity, and we are just bigger, stronger, and faster in more areas and that was the difference. It was our 7th straight victory over QND at the varsity level. The JV also won 2-0 as freshman Bronson Melvin scored both goals.

While the QND game is always a big game, it ALWAYS is the 2nd most important game of the week in the grand scheme of things as we always have a conference game that week as well. Winning against your cross town rival is always great, but winning the conference is something you really set your sights on and on Saturday night we opened the conference season at Moline.

You never know what to expect from kids on their first road trip, especially one that is long. Our JV showed exactly that, as they scored very early in the game, but from that point on didn't play very well and lost 2-1. It was the first loss in 2 years for the JV program and one that I know our young men will learn from.

We really thought that our varsity kids would see what happened with the JV and not let it happen to them. WISHFUL THINKING is all I can say. Less than 3 minutes into the game, Moline scored on a defensive mistake and already we were in a hole and for the first time, trailing in a game. It was time to see what this team is made of. Do we panic and start doing things we don't practice or do we stay the course and plug away? Coach Rick Sanchez of Moline feels this is one of his better teams and they are very talented in several areas.

Well, we stayed with our game plan and didn't get rattled and were able to get the equalizer on a corner kick header by Zach Forbes and then took the lead ten minutes later when Blake Williams re-directed a shot after a corner was cleared. The second half was very interesting to say the least. The game got a little physical, and we found ourselves in a heck of a predicament when one of our players got a red card and so did one of theirs. However, with the playing field being a little smaller than we are normally use to, it created more space for us to do our thing and we capitalized by getting goals from Mitchell Schrage and Ethan Venvertloh to seal the 4-1 win and start the conference off on a good note.

The bad news is, we have to play without a player next week at Springfield SHG and that will be tough. It's a shame that a linesman makes that poor of a decision to eject two players who were pushing each other in the middle of about 10 kids preparing for a restart. Yellow cards yes, but reds was a little over the top we thought. In any case, we have all the confidence in the world that we will be able to step up and rise to the challenge ahead of us over in Springfield.

I was very proud of our young men when we lost one of our players. They were on the field talking about what they were going to do and how they would adjust our system. Since we were winning 2-1 at the time, they opted to stay strong on defense and we removed a forward from our system. We are now 7-0-1 and have given 6 of our 8 opponents their first blemish on their record.

Next weeks games are both on the road. I already mentioned SHG, but on Saturday, we go to Jefferson City Helias who was the class 2 state runner-up last year. Should be another good week.

Our Sophomore/Freshman team remained undefeated and won the Chatham tournament. They are now 7-0-1 after beating Waterloo Gibault 3-1, Chatham Glenwood 3-0, and Springfield High 3-2 in PK's. They will also travel to Jeff City next weekend to play Helias and Jefferson City High.

Overall, our program is now 18-1-2 on the season. Not too shabby.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Interesting week!!!

After an impressive weekend that saw us capture the Midwest Soccer Classic title, we were back in action quickly on Tuesday against Hannibal. Hannibal has become a bit of a rivaly because our kids have grown up playing against Hannibal kids and also because annually, Hannibal has been a very competitive game for us. However, the 2009 game was not a typical QHS vs Hannibal game. We scored early and often and jumped out to a 9-0 first half lead and with the 2nd half cut to just 20 minutes, we ended up winning 10-0 to remain perfect on the season at 4-0. Junior Mitchell Schrage had a tremendous night for us with 4 goals and 2 assists.

While Hannibal may be a rivalry game, our game Friday night vs Belleville East was our most important. We don't get a lot of opportunity to play teams from the St. Louis area, so when we do, we need to make a good impression as this is where we go for regionals now.

We did not play our best game Friday night, but Belleville East had a lot to do with that as well. Belleville East is extremely fast all over the field and we had a hard time adjusting to their pace of play. We got out of what we do best and started playing their game. Both teams had excellent scoring opportunities, but in the end, the game ended in a 0-0 tie and both teams remained undefeated at 4-0-1. We outshot Belleville East 20-9, but we gave up 9 corners and that just can't happen. Somehow I have a feeling these two teams could cross path's someone else this year and we will be ready for them.

On Saturday we played Columbia, IL. who came up for an overnight trip and the coaches had a lot of reasons for concern. Not necessarily because Columbia was that good, but because we are dealing with 14-17 old kids and you never know what to expect from them. We knew coming off an emotional, physical,and intense game from the night before that we would take a bit to get going. However, we didn't anticipate having the struggles we had. Columbia had been beaten by Belleville East 6-0 earlier in the season and on paper we should have had our way, and it looked like we just might as 10 minutes in we scored. However, they countered with a quick restart and tied it 1-1 and the fight was on. The worst thing you can do to a team who you are better than, is to give them confidence and that is exactly what we did.

We played the final 25 minutes of the first half as individuals rather than as a team. Everything we had worked so hard to accomplish seemed to not matter anymore. We are such a good team when we move the ball and work together, but when we don't, it gets ugly. At half-time we talked about working together as a team and we did just that. However, as the game wore on you could see the frustration settle back in as we were working hard and doing good things, but just couldn't put one in the back of the net. Everyone was busting their tail to be the hero, but in doing that, we at times abandoned what we do best. In the end, with 15 minutes remaining, we capitalized on a nice cross and settle and won 2-1. Soccer is a funny game in that the best team doesn't always win the game. We outshot them 24-2 and had 9 corner kicks, but the scoreboard didn't show that type of domination.

Next week starts a tough stretch for us as we host that team from across town and then head to the road next weekend for our conference opener against Moline. Should make for an interesting week so check back in with us after the game on Tuesday vs QND. Game is at Flinn with JV at 5:00 and varsity at 6:30. Both teams are undefeated and it should be a great match.

Our JV team remained undefeated and unscored on after posting wins over Hannibal, Belleville East, and Columbia.

The Sophomore/Freshman team is also undefeated on the season after picking up 3 wins this past weekend. On Friday night, they defeated the Columbia JV 3-0 on two goals from Noah Spake and one goal from Tyler Cannell. On Saturday, they defeated Columbia Rock Bridge 3-1 and Springfield SHG 2-0. Their record is 4-0-1 and they will play in the Chatham tournament next weekend.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What a weekend!

The start of the 2009 soccer season came on Friday night, and oh what an impressive start. We played McHenry High from the Chicago suburbs in the opening round of the Midwest Soccer Classic held here in Quincy. The first fifteen minutes of the game was pretty even, but from that point on, the floodgates opened and we were all over McHenry for the next 60 minutes. Our passing was crisp and our pressure was high. Mitchell Schrage scored two first half goals and Blake Williams and Zach Forbes added 2nd half goals for a final of 4-0. We played so well that the McHenry coach said, "It's been a couple years since I have seen a team this good!" What a compliment.

Too bad we didn't carry over that same intensity on Saturday morning vs Kirksville. We can think up a lot of different excuses for why we played so poorly. 1) It was 9:30 AM 2)It was Kirksville 3)we were reserving energy for the afternoon game. I don't really know what it was, but I think we learned a lot from it. Gavin Schaefer put us on the board in the first half for a 1-0 half-time lead. However, the start of the 2nd half we exploded for 3 goals in the first 5 minutes and went on to a 5-0 victory. Matt Burrus scored twice and Blake Willams and Taylor Nord also chipped in goals.

The afternoon game for us was a very important game for jhust the 3rd one of the season. Our regional is now down in the St. Louis area and we only play a few teams from down there. Collinsville, while not usually in our regional, plays all the teams that are, so it was a chance to show what we are capable of. Not to mention that last year, they were the only team to beat us in a regualtion game. From the first whistle, we were down their throat. Blake Camacho ripped a shot off the crossbar 20 seconds into the game and we would hit it 2 more times in the first half but could only muster 1 goal from Mitchell Schrage to lead 1-0 at the half. Collinsville had the wind in the 2nd half and they created more. It seemed like we were content to play defense the last 10 minutes of the game and try and pull out a 1-0 win, but Blake Williams scored off a corner kick with under 4 to play. Thinking we had it wrapped up now, we let down and gave up our first goal of the year on a restart. Something that should NEVER happen with our size. With under a minute to play Matt Burrus sealed the game with a nice 1 on 1 goal and a 3-1 victory and TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP!

This week we have 3 games at home, playing Hannibal on Tuesday, Belleville East on Friday and Columbia, IL on Saturday. It will also mark the start of our JV schedule as they will also play Canton, MO on Monday.

Our Sophomore team opened their weekend in fine fashion as well with a road trip to Springfield to take on Normal West and Springfield SH-G. In their first game vs Normal West, they jumped out to a 4-0 half-time lead and never looked back winning 5-1. Freshman Bronson Melvin scored 4 goals and Sophomore Michael Davis added one. Playing their 2nd game of a back to back game, the team played to a scoreless draw with SH-G. It was our 2nd game, but only the first for SH-G, which made a difference. The Sophomores play 3 games this week as well. The play Friday at home vs the Columbia JV, then on Saturday host Columbia, MO Rock Bridge and Springfield SHG