Boys soccer: Lourdes picked up the pace in its progress by slowing down – Poughkeepsie Journal

Posted: October 7, 2021 at 3:38 pm

Patience is a requirement.

As the boys soccer team struggled to make significant progress in recent years, the frustration was unavoidable among those involved. Worse so, Jason Adams said, when the group believed itself to have enough talent to produce.

My time here started with three years of us being mediocre, the Our Lady of Lourdes High School senior said. We had a couple years we thought we could be good, but fell short, and that was the hardest part to deal with.

It took a level of fortitude to continue believing a turnaround was possible, and that it could happen with this core still in place.

Patience, coincidentally, also has been a key factor in their production this season as Lourdes turned heads by winning its first seven games.

With a system predicated on ball control and meticulous passing, the Warriors have developed an efficient offense and that, in turn, has quickly transformed the team. With this breakthrough, Lourdes quietly has nudged itself into discussions of the best local teams.

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Its something weve tried to do for a few years, but its clicking for them now, coach Roy Kievit said of the slowed pace and perimeter play. They were receptive to it and theyre seeing results.

Kievit is in his first season as varsity head coach, but he led the junior varsity squad for years before succeeding longtime coach Matt Schlottmann, who retired. The two had sought to implement that offensive philosophy throughout the program, but it had little impact on the results.

Lourdes had losing records in most years, hovering below the .500 mark. When they did make the Section 1 playoffs, it usually would be as a low-seeded team competing in an out-bracket game. They made small strides last season, going 5-5 and reaching the Dutchess County semifinals in the COVID-shortened fall season. That win total, of course, already has been surpassed.

Whats different now, Kievit said, is an influx of talent younger players whose skills were developed in this system at the lower levels and whose talents fit the scheme.

That group includes sophomore midfielder AJ Geis, whoAdams described as a whiz with precision passes and excellent through balls. Sophomore Alex Crysler, a center midfielder, already has emerged as a vocal leader and a physical presence.

This group, were skilled and knowledgeable about soccer," Adams said. "It was a great idea to change up our form. We can work the ball around and be patient because were confident in ourselves. Its working pretty well.

Adams is an attacking midfielder who is their leading scorer. He earned Journal All-Star honors last year and has excelled even more this season, maneuvering through the defense to find openings in the box or get himself in advantageous positions to receive passes inside.

Good footwork and dribbling skills are necessary in maintaining control of the ball on those prolonged possessions, and several of the players have those abilities.

Were not just kicking the ball up field and chasing after it, Kievit said. We work it around and, if its not there, we reset. We look to find lanes, then attack. If were able to force teams to start running around on defense, thats when the opportunities come.

Lourdes has averaged four goals per game and, in controlling time of possession, the team can limit its opponents opportunities. Most notably, the Warriors upset Peekskill and Walter Panas, announcing themselves as a team to be taken seriously. Their most memorable game, Adams said, was a 4-3 overtime win over Hendrick Hudson in which Lourdes rallied from a three-goal deficit.

Theyre extremely happy and I couldnt be prouder of them, Kievit said of his players. Having that early success is huge because its a motivator. The more wins, the more of a belief there is in what were doing and what were capable of.

Robert Ranieri, Liam Claire and Josh Guerriero have anchored a stout defense, and goalkeeper Ned Van Loan, thrust unexpectedly into a starting role, has held his own.

That was supposed to be one of our questionable areas this year, but we've only let up a few goals, Adams said of the defense. Having Josh and Liam, two 6-footers on defense, definitely helps. We also defend as a team and bring a lot of intensity and physicality.

Noah Balicki and freshmen Jack Yough and Evan Cancro have adapted seamlessly and provided the team such balance and depth, Kievit said, there is an almost constant rotation of players. With a roster of 24, many of whom have comparable talent, even the standouts share minutes.

Thats why theres such intensity every game, knowing theres a guy behind you who can be just as good, said Adams, a four-year varsity player. It can be a gift and a curse, having great depth, but also needing to get playing time for everyone. But were unselfish and it pushes all of us to bring it every time.

Lourdes lost its first game on Tuesday to begin a difficult stretch in which the team has matches on four consecutive days. Still, the Warriors' seven-game win streak to start provides a buffer, and the team rebound with a 3-0 win over Hen Hud on Wednesday.

There isnt a set benchmark for achievement this season, such as reaching a particular round of the playoffs. The goal, they said, is simply to win as many games as possible.

Im jumping up and down on the sidelines after games, Adams said. Im ecstatic. All these years, not having a great season and being disappointed, having the success were having now is a dream come true.

Stephen Haynes: shaynes@poughkeepsiejournal.com, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4

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Boys soccer: Lourdes picked up the pace in its progress by slowing down - Poughkeepsie Journal

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