In his return to the Prairie City-Monroe boys soccer team last season, coach Darrin Telfer and the Mustangs only mustered up three wins, but were able to compete in plenty of games.
This year, with nearly every starter back, expectations have been raised a little bit higher.
PCM will begin its season today with a tough test at Pella Christian, but by the end of the season, Telfer is hoping to see a different team than the one that went 3-12 last year.
“We have a lot of talent and a lot of starters back, so obviously we want to compete in every match,” Telfer said. “A lot of the kids put in work over the offseason, and some are splitting time, so I’d like to see their hard work pay off for them. We’re just trying to gain some credibility.”
Returning from last season are an estimated nine starters, including team goal leaders Jamison Goodyk and Jamie Rea, both shared players from Lynnville-Sully. Also among them are Colfax-Mingo’s Dylan Albright and PCM veterans Rhett Gainey, Alex DeWitte and fall soccer coach Randall Schippers, who is serving as an assistant.
Last season’s goalkeeper Ryan Donahue also returns, but is getting some preseason competition from senior Derrick Hoodjer. However, with the roster likely up in the air until after the season starts, whoever doesn’t get the keeper job will likely still see the field. The same can be said for just about any position at this point, actually.
“We told the guys there’s no position guaranteed, so we’ll have some open competitions,” Telfer said. “We’ve moved a couple of them around, but in soccer there’s still the whole mentality of staying in your position.
Lynnville-Sully has a stronger presence on this year’s team than past years, as newcomers Nick Lirio and Korey Exline could very well see the field this season. PCM freshman Andres Vargas is another young player that could see varsity action this season. And considering the number of veterans the Mustangs are sporting, breaking in inexperienced players could be easier than usual.
“We played a lot of guys last year with rotation,” Telfer said. “I feel very confident in our varsity guys, even though we’ve been inside like everyone else in Iowa. But we’re not starting over or anything like that, so we can run the same system.”
The factor that’s the hardest to deny is the team’s experience in big-game situations. Granted that experience is largely in other sports, the basics of competition still apply. Albright reached the state wrestling tournament for Colfax-Mingo this season, while DeWitte has been a part of the Mustangs’ basketball success over the past few years and Goodyk and Rea have done the same for Lynnville-Sully football.
With that much experience on one roster, this could be the year the Mustangs gain the credibility Telfer is looking for.
“They’re good leaders and they put of the other kids in their place and set a good example for them,” Telfer said. “A couple of them even held some guys after practice this week and worked on some things. They said they’re not just here to compete, they’re here to win. They’re not busting their you-know-whats just to go play, and they bring that fighting and winning mentality.”