Last season's experience to help 2011 LO kickers
August 17, 2011 - By Joe St. Henry
Last year's inexperience could play in the favor of the Lake Orion boy's varsity soccer team this fall, according to Coach Matt Paukovits.
The young team featured a number of underclassmen in 2010 and still won ten games competing in the OAA Red Division. Paukovits says that varsity game experience was invaluable and should bode well for the 2011 season.
"I expect to build on last year," he said. "Our guys let a couple of games get away from them, but that's all part of the learning curve at this level."
Paukovits said this year's team has strong leadership and nice chemistry, as well as several talented players. It may not have the superstar or two as in years past, but it is more balanced and has depth, which should make the team competitive.
Leading the charge is senior forward Jacob Sims, a four-year varsity player. Sims has scored 17 goals over the past three seasons. "Jacob has worked very hard and he's an excellent leader," Paukovits said. "He'll be feeling the pressure of being the main, go-to guy, but I think he is ready. He's mentally learning the game better."
The head coach also expects big things from junior goalkeeper Greg Thelen. "He worked very hard last year and we brought him up," Paukovits said. "As a sophomore he started six or seven games on varsity and he's ready to step in as the full-time starter."
Other returning players that should play prominent roles in the upcoming season include senior defenders Adam Yee, Jarrett Gorman, Danny Wells and Shawn Hughes. Paukovits also will be counting heavily on midfielders Angel Herrera, a senior, and juniors Justin Anderson, Addison Wittry and Rusty Reichenbach.
Paukovits said the midfielders must move into the offensive zone to support Sims. To accomplish this, he has been working hard with the entire team to improve their vision of the field and to recognize where everyone is at all times.
"The key in soccer is not what you do with the ball, but what you're doing when you don't have it," the head coach said. "Not only do you have to anticipate the play, but position your body the right way to take advantage of the situation."
It is these finer points of the game that Paukovits is teaching this Dragon team. He returned from a trip to Europe just before Lake Orion's camp opened. In Germany, Paukovits and a team of Vardar high school players had the opportunity to train with coaches from the German futbol club SC Frieburg.
"I had the chance to validate some of the coaching and training strategies we are using here, plus identify some of our weaknesses as a program," he said. "Our goal is to continually improve."
Lake Orion kicks off its 16-game season at home against Davison on Aug. 20. The team's league schedule begins with a home match against Clarkston on Aug. 25. With only seven OAA Red division games this fall, Paukovits knows each one is important.
"It's hard to tell how the league will play out this year, since both Troy Athens and Troy have new coaches," he explained. "But it should be competitive as always."
A number of the Dragon home games have been purposely scheduled for Saturday nights, in an effort to draw crowds and provide more of an event atmosphere like professional games here and abroad, said the coach.
"We started this a little last season with more students coming to the games," Paukovits said. "We're going to decorate the stadium and hope to make it really entertaining and fun for the fans."