NEWTON — Gone are the scorers from last year and the goalkeepers from last year, but don’t count 2014 Newton Cardinal boys out of challenging teams on the soccer field.
The Cardinals are under a new head coach. Sackda Viravong is a veteran soccer coach, who moved over from a five-year stint as the NHS girls’ soccer head coach. Viravong’s girls’ teams were 58-27 at Newton. Viravong coached at Grinnell High School and Grinnell College.
Newton came up just short of qualifying for the state tournament, losing 1-0 to Norwalk in overtime in the substate championship game in 2013. The Cardinals scored 30 goals a year ago and most came from players who graduated. They also lost their starting goalkeeper to graduation.
“We have seven returning players in seniors Dillon Constant, Colton Hansen, Nathen Moorman and Chandler Sturtz, juniors Mike McCormick and Tristan Peters and sophomore Griffin Engle,” Viravong said. “We have about 45 players out this season. Our varsity will be organized around mostly new and younger players who do not have varsity game experience.”
Sturtz earned Little Hawkeye Conference honorable mention as a defender. The Cardinals finished 8-6 overall a year ago and were third in the Little Hawkeye Conference.
Viravong and assistant coaches Tyler Kramer and Chad Hollenbeck are building the Cardinal varsity, junior varsity and first-year/freshman teams on teamwork at all levels.
“It will be a big challenge and the team will face huge adversity because of our inexperience. However, I look forward to the new players stepping up and taking on the speed and physical nature of varsity competition.,” Viravong said.
“We will have to be organized in our offensive attacks and defensive positions. We will need to play together as a team by passing and moving the soccer ball around. Also, we will have to learn how to get everyone involved in the game and make good decisions on the field.”
Working in the net for the varsity team are senior Ryan Thompson and Engel. The Cardinals are looking for the players who can attack the net and score out front in the forward and mid-fielder spots.
Viravong said competition for varsity spots is good during practices. He said the team might struggle early as the players work into roles on the field.
The Cardinals see how well they’ve progressed in practices on Saturday. They host a four-team tournament at H.A. Lynn Stadium.
Newton plays Benton Community of Van Horne at 10 a.m. followed by Prairie City-Monroe taking on Mid-Prairie of Wellman. The losing teams of the two games play a 1 p.m. followed by the winners at 2:30 p.m.
The Cardinal varsity plays at Norwalk Tuesday to kick off Little Hawkeye Conference play.
Other members of the team are seniors Damian Anderson, Isaiah Dickey, Mac Icenbice, and Alec Morgan; juniors Jesse Cochran, Grant Davidson, Jackson Forck, Colby Lawson, Harrison McCarey, Patrick Murphy, Brock Southern, Jeff Stanton, and Chris Thorpe; and sophomores Chet Adams, Grayson Bookbinder, Chase Dykstra, Nick Geerlings, Maison Grey, Jonah Keeton, Cragar Klingensmith, Duncan Lee, Michael McKinney, Dalton Nevels, Logan Norcross, and Celeb Van Baale.
Freshmen on the soccer team are Spencer Elbert, Justin Fischer, Josh Gulling, Logan Heisdorffer, Reagan Maple, Jordan Norvell, Brenden Phillips, Reese Rosenquist, Tyler Stanton, Seamus VandeMore, Trey Vanderlaan, and Josh Ventling.