Experience-leadership keys for Leafs

Amy Carton
Colin pullman chases down the ball while trying to fend off the Galesburg defender Aug. 24 in?Geneseo.

With a large contingent of seniors returning for their final season of Leaf soccer, this year’s Geneseo High School boys’ soccer team will rely on that experience as the Leafs hope to make a deep run in the postseason.

“Well, the first week was pretty good,” said head coach Ian Kline. “Right away we were getting into things and trying to figure out who we have.”

The Leafs return most of their starting lineup which includes seniors Drew Haars, Colin Pullman, Tobi Pautz, Tanner Piepenbrink, Matt?Despain, Eli Flynn, Leo DeBisschop, Dalton Boelens, Patrick Schroeder and Jacob Arnold.

“We have experience coming back and most of our starting lineup is the same,” said Kline.?“I?hope the seniors pass down the style I’ve been teaching by showing it in practice and games. They are a good group to work with and a decent group that can play pretty nice soccer. I expect a lot out of them and I think they can do very good things.”

This year’s squad has only three juniors which include Jacob Samuelson, Levi Samuelson and Josh DuBois.

Also joining the varsity squad are sophomores Shawn DePauw, Sean Miller and Sawyer Claus, and freshman Justin?Seeley.

“The younger players I bring up will be ready or I wouldn’t bring them up,” said Kline.?“They need to gain experience for the future. The guys up on varsity show they deserve it and should get good minutes.”

With a lot of experience on the varsity team and some promising newcomers it has provided some healthy competition for the Leafs as they prepare for the season.

“There is good, healthy competition for spots and it has been a struggle with what to do,” said Kline. “Everyone has to work for it and the underclassmen are showing they deserve it, too.”

The strengths of this year’s squad will be their experience and leadership, said Kline. But coach Kline is still looking for someone to step up and be vocal.

This season coach Kline wants to see his team win conference and win regionals.

“I would love to get a regional title,” he said. “We have been real close in the past and this year I think we can do it. After that, who knows, but there is potential for sectionals.”

Last season, Geneseo earned a share of the NCIC title with Dixon with a record of 8-1. In the first round of regionals, Geneseo came from behind in triple overtime to beat Rock Island 3-2. The Leafs’ season came to an end in the regional title game where they were defeated by Freeport, 2-0. Geneseo finished the year with an overall record of 13-7-2.

Geneseo vs. Galesburg

In Geneseo’s season opener the Leafs squared off against visiting Galesburg Aug. 24 which proved to be a tough test for Geneseo as the game ended in a 1-1 tie.

“Last night was one of the craziest games I have been a part of,” said Kline. “Galesburg is always rough and tough with us. It was the first game of the season and we got a wake up call with the new two refereeing system (in past years there was a three-man system). Things kind of got out of hand and the refs were pulling out cards left and right.”

Galesburg struck first on a goal by Andrew Smith at the 16-minute mark in the first half. Galesburg took a 1-0 lead into halftime.

Geneseo finally got on the board in the second half with a goal by Jacob Arnold at 71:00 to tie the contest.

“It was a great first game of the season,” said Kline. “The guys responded well and we had the momentum at the end of the game and were looking like the dominant team even with a man down. I commend the guys for the way they pulled together and fought through a tough game.”

Neither team was able to put in the winning goal as the game ended in a tie.

Geneseo finished the game with two shots on goal and Arnold made five saves in the net.

Galesburg had six shots on goal and one goalie save.

The Leafs (0-0-1 overall) will next face Hononegah at 11 a.m. and Boylan at 4 p.m. Aug. 28 on the road.

“I just know they are both 3A schools and are both very competitive,” said Kline.?“These will be good games for us to get in and see good teams and a high level of competition.

“I hope our guys are able to take the momentum we had at the end of the game and take it to Saturday. Saturday will be a  big test and a lot of guys will see some minutes.”