Christian Academy of Indiana tasted postseason success for the first time last fall — and they are hungry for more.
The Warriors won the inaugural Class A Sectional 60 boys’ crown when beating Providence 2-0, a result which means they will no longer be considered a surprise packet.
Which is fine with coach Will Lorigan, who said he thinks the success of the team is the first fruit of a greater effort by the school’s athletics department to field teams that not only compete, but compete with excellence.
“If anything, winning a soccer sectional last year erased the mental hurdle some kids face when playing against good opponents,” he said.
“Needless to say last year’s success has instilled a greater hunger for the coming season in the returning players and given the new players an immediate goal to reach and then to push further during their soccer careers at Christian Academy.
“One of the things I tell my players is the difference between a good and great athlete is the top three inches — not necessarily how skilled you are but how mentally tough you are.”
Last year, athletic director Chris Harper introduced soccer at elementary level to add to a middle-school program.
“Ultimately, the goal is to start producing quality athletes every year for every sport, with the elementary and middle school grades focusing on fundamentals, team work, character and spiritual growth,” said Lorigan. “By the time these kids reach high school they should be ready to plug into the junior varsity and varsity teams of every sport, continually raising the level of excellence that we compete at.”
There are 10 freshmen coming into the soccer program this year, the largest since the Warriors’ current senior class, and they will find the standard bar set that little bit higher.
“I challenged the current seniors to win a sectional title by the end of their senior year, and they achieved that in their junior year,” said Lorigan. “I’ll be doing the same with this freshman class but setting the standards higher because their foundation is stronger.”
New additions such as Nick Reed, James Martin, Cole Ragland and Garrett Couch will join some solid returning players, such as Caleb Ferree, Josh Moore, Quinn Banet and Justin Baird.
“We also have a new goalkeeper in junior Lucas Young who has big shoes to fill after Drew Mattingly and Tyler Stumler but we think he is equal to the task.” said Lorigan.
This year’s preparations included participating in the University of Louisville team camp this summer which Lorigan described as “an extraordinary experience.”
“The players learned a lot about team work, team goals, individual goals, and most importantly how to approach the game of soccer,” he said. “The camp was so beneficial we’ll be committing to it every year as we continue to build the program.”
Elsewhere, Providence will be keen to have a good season and complete it with its first sectional title since 2008, while Rock Creek Academy, Silver Creek, Henryville and Charelstown will be striving to improve their respective programs also.
New Albany, Jeffersonville and Floyd Central will be hoping for good runs in the Hoosier Hills Conference before attempting to wrestle the Class 2A Sectional 30 title from the grasp of Jasper.