FINNEYTOWN – Joe Talley knows what it’s like to be an underdog and to prove all the doubters wrong.
The Finneytown High School boys soccer coach was a captain on Springfield Catholic Central’s 2001 Division III state championship team; a team that was expected to do very little by those outside of the locker room.
That’s the same sentiment following around his Wildcats, as the team has experienced just one winning season in the last four years. Now with a squad comprised of nine seniors, eight of which saw playing time during their 7-9-1 2013 campaign, Talley likes the potential of his veteran squad in what is his last season as head coach at Finneytown.
“They were still developing their mental mindset last year and we still took some risks for developmental purposes,” Talley said before practice Aug. 14. “This is the year that they’re going to have to start to grind out some wins.”
One of the keys to Talley’s state title run in ’01 was the team’s unselfish play. No one, regardless of age or grade, was more or less important than the other and that’s a theme at Finneytown this season.
“We haven’t had any problems with someone not getting rid of the ball and I think we all work as a team,” senior Charlie Payne said, who is one of five team captains in 2014. “I think that’s one of the ways we’ll be able to beat teams; by using each other, not one person, but all 11 players on the field trying to beat somebody.”
While Payne will miss the first couple weeks of the season with an injured hamstring, look for first-year forward, senior Moustapha Ndiaye, and sophomore Jessie Cobbs to fill the void offensively.
The Wildcats will have senior leadership in net with Luke Steimle. Steimle is in his fourth year in net and is getting some added coaching this season as Talley has brought in Cincinnati Lady Saints goalkeeper Sam Rolsen to mentor his senior.
“He’s relied on his athleticism in the past and I’m hoping (bringing Sam in) will set him apart this year even more so,” Talley said, who coached the Lady Saints this past season. “She said he’s raw talent and she’s excited to work with him. As soon as she’s able to teach him the mechanics and everything, nothing should get by him.”
After being reminded of the way Talley’s Central team won games over and over, the same mentality is starting to sink in among his players.
“This year we don’t have one guy we rely on,” senior captain Connor Zimmerman said. “Other teams can’t say ‘shutdown this guy and they won’t be able to win.’ Our whole team, we are on the same level of play and we win games together.”