COLERAIN TWP. – Winning can’t cure everything, but it makes a lot of things better.
For first-year Northwest High School boys’ soccer coach Austin Morgan, winning made his short transition from assistant to head coach much easier.
Morgan was named coach of the Knights just over a month ago and mans a squad that is coming off a 9-7-1 season, but graduated 10 seniors.
“Winning and getting that winning feeling gave them the drive to get better, which is obviously what you want,” Morgan said, who previously was an assistant coach at Colerain High School. “I think it’d be a lot different if they went 1-15 last year and then I came in as a new coach. So, it was nice that they got a taste of winning before I came in.”
Can the winning continue for a program that’s not had much success over the long haul?
“I feel like once we get their minds into it, it will work for us,” Morgan said after his Knights lost a scrimmage 2-0 to Archbishop Moeller High School Aug. 14. “We have to close the gap as to how long it takes for them to get in that mindset. I think offensively we’re going to score some goals. Every day we’ve got to get better and if that happens I think we’ll be fine.”
Defensively is where the Knights struggled the most against the Crusaders, but senior goalkeeper Jeff Kaczmarek pulled his best Tim Howard impression to keep his team in it. For the Knights to make an impact in the Southwest Ohio Conference, Kaczmarek must produce the same result on multiple occasions throughout 2014.
“As a senior we need him to be big for us,” the coach said of his senior who posted an .870 save percentage last season. “I was a goalkeeper my whole life, so I’ve been able to work with him on the adjustment to being a senior now and a leader and getting him to know he needs to be our rock when we’re on the field. At first, trying to figure things out defensively he got frustrated, but I think he’ll be alright.”
Look for seniors Willie Cunningham and Alex Schibik to attack from the forward position, while senior Connor Horne will lock down the midfield along with Andre Earn. Senior Myles Pringle is a pure, multi-sport athlete who will make a different in the backfield.
“He’s a quiet leader,” Morgan said of the 6-foot-2 Pringle. “He doesn’t talk back, he just goes out and he works hard. He leads by what he’s doing on the field.”
Sophomore Noah White, who played all 80 minutes against Moeller, has impressed Morgan early on and is likely to see time alongside Pringle in the backfield. White is one of the few underclassmen that have made an impact in the preseason.
“For the younger guys it’s going to be about how quick they can learn,” the coach said, who played goalkeeper for four years at Colerain before going to Cincinnati State for two years and then to Coastal Carolina to finish his college soccer career. “Our seniors are locked in with spots and then everywhere else the faster you learn, the more playing time you get.”
As for Morgan’s philosophy as a head coach, it’s about getting his guys thinking soccer all the time.
“I want them to be in the mindset that this is going to be your lifestyle, and it should be. I want them to have a soccer mindset while there here. It takes a little pushing, a little giving, but you have to work with it.”