For The Love Of The Game: Boys Soccer

Ted Weiss and Daisy Erickson

Captain Carter Sandras (12) punted the ball down feild against CSCS
Captain Carter Sandras (12) punted the ball down feild against CSCS

 

As Manitou Springs Boys Soccer Team rode home from their playoff game against Crested Butte, it all seemed like smiles. At the back of the bus, players were singing their favorite songs in unison, attitudes were high and happy.

Although it wasn’t a fairy tale ending for the Mustangs, as they lost 4-3 against seventh seed Crested Butte, the boys left the field in good spirits.

While Manitou was disappointed with their loss, captain Carter Sandras (12) thought that what the mustangs accomplished exceeded expectations. “Everyone played their heart out. It felt like we’ve played the best game we’ve ever played”.

Manitou shocked the Crested Butte crowd as Noel Stephan (11) beat a defender and sent a cross towards Darwin Fredrickson (12) and volleyed it in. Manitou then conceded a penalty kick that a Titan forward converted. Manitou then conceded again to go into the half down 2-1. Manitou tied it 2-2, but Crested Butte later scored two more goals later in the half. Travis Struble (11) then scored the final goal of the game to end it 4-3.

Coach Ben Mack stated, “It was a loss, but a good loss.”

Though the outcome of the game wasn’t the best the team could hope for, the events leading up to it will be held in the captains best memories of the season. In preparations for the game, every player coming up for playoffs thought of a good way to show commitment towards the team; giving themselves mohawks. Everyone went to the Sandras house where Mack, manager Lexi Vernon (11), and goalkeeping coach Tim Owen shaved everyone’s head.

“I think the shaved heads were a commitment that we were ready to go all out and give it our all, together as a team.” said captain Leland Spangler (12).

Shaved heads weren’t the only new things the boys brought to the field that day. Sandras says that the way they prepared for the playoff game was like no other.

“We were all on the field cheering, playing music, just having a good time. When the other team came on to the field and saw us, every players head went down. I think they were intimidated to see us so confident together.”

And that’s what the soccer boys are calling their real victory: companionship.

While Manitou advance no farther into state, the season was far from a failure. At the beginning of the season, the outlook was not very optimistic. Manitou didn’t start as well as last years team.

“It was a little bit of a shock to come back and start losing, and I think that made us put more effort into it and just push ourselves harder. Everyone was super committed.” said Spangler.

Sandras added, “After our losses, that’s when we realized that this was our moment to┬áchange.”

Manitou lost their first came by a score of 5-3 against 4A school Vista Ridge, but Manitou bounced back with their first win against Falcon, with a score of 4-0.

Manitou’s season continued to twist and turn with wins and losses.

The last game before playoffs, thought of as “the turning point” in the minds of the captains, was against Jefferson Academy. It was a story of two halves. Manitou put pressure against the Jefferson defense in the first half but no shot hit the back of the net.

But Manitou turned a complete 180 in the second half. Josh Elkington scored the first goal and the rest followed suit, made by Struble and Fredrickson.

Expanding on the Jefferson game as a turning point in the attitude of the players, Sandras said, “That’s when we decided we could hang with any team. As long as we played for each other, trusted each other, I knew we could excel.”

And that’s just what the team did: excel. Whether on an individual scale or as a team, a significant of accomplishments accompanied the boys soccer team this season.

Junior Josh Elkington won Tri-Peaks player of the year and also the top scorer of the league. He was followed by senior Darwin Fredrickson at number two.

Senior Goalkeeper and Captain Carter Sandras currently holds every goalkeeping record at Manitou.

Senior captain Gunnar Svenby shifted positions multiple times throughout the season, but set a good example and “kept the youngin’s in check.”

As a team, certain personal goals set by the players for themselves are also quite noteworthy. Mack, Sandras, Spangler, and Svenby unanimously agreed that the teams biggest of two goals was to make it to the playoff game, and they succeeded. The second was to make it to 500, which is an even win-to-loss ratio.

“This is the second best season a Manitou soccer team’s ever played,” said Coach Mack.

Second only to last years season, whose team consisted of a plethora of graduating seniors, the 2014-2015 soccer team bounced back, pulled their weight, and came out stronger than even their own players anticipated.

When asked one word to describe the soccer season as a whole, no captain or coach said “hard” or “disappointing”. They responded with words like “rewarding”, “fun”, and “climbing”.

The team looks forward to another fun climb to the top, and holds it in the hearts that it’s not about winning the game; it’s about how you got there.