Below is unedited version of Fern Creek’s remarkable story, featured in Vype Magazine’s November edition.
They might be a diverse bunch with hand-me-down cleats and shorts, but that didn’t stop the players of Fern Creek Traditional High School achieving a fantastic feat on the soccer field this fall.
With a squad comprising members from no less than 11 countries, the multinational Tigers fought their way to the Sixth Region championship – their first ever – after winning the 24th District crown.
Fern Creek’s incredible run was eventually halted in the state tournament series matchup against North Hardin, ending a nine-game winning streak in a season which saw them post a 15-5-3 record.
First-year coach John Pedro’s varsity and junior varsity charges are a mix of players from Iraq, Kenya, Somalia, Bosnia, Mexico, Liberia, Guatemala, the Philippines, Spain, Nepal and the U.S. (including the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico).
“I’ve never coached a team this diverse in age or ethnicity,” says Pedro, who took over from three-year head coach Jamie Dumstorf. “At the beginning of the season, I really had to sit back, observe and understand the dichotomy of the situation and of the players.”
They had three weeks of grueling preseason training which allowed Pedro, ably aided by assistant Kelsey Krueger, to get to know the players and their mindset a little.
“Quickly, I began to understand that most of these kids live in less fortunate circumstances than your typical high school boy,” he says. “Most of these kids don’t have transportation, relying on TARC to get them to practice or home. Their cleats, shorts and clothes are in many cases hand-me-downs. On many occasions we have players borrow each other’s equipment for games and practice because they simply can’t afford new stuff. Some even wonder if they will be able to eat that day or not.”
Yet despite the obstacles, the players trained hard every day, never missing a session.
“Most these kids know the game,” says Pedro. “They watch it, talk about it, and live and breathe it. Having so many different backgrounds was challenging because they all play a little differently than each other and don’t always understand one another. However, soccer is a universal language I think.”
The hard work paid off and as they gelled, the results followed, being rewarded with a district title courtesy of victories against Bullitt East (5-1) and Whitefield Academy (2-1 in double overtime).
The following day, Pedro discovered how much of a unit they had become. He called an emergency practice, asking captains Greg Pineo and Abdikadir Hussein to round up as many troops as possible. Of the 15 that turned up, eight had no cleats and three trained in their school slacks. However, they all decided to train barefoot.
“The ones who were fortunate enough to bring theirs took them off so they could support the ones who didn’t,” he reveals. “At that point, I knew we were one.”
What followed were wins against Southern (4-1), Iroquois (1-0) and Fairdale (1-0) to give the Tigers first ever Region Six crown.
“It has been a terrific season for these kids and I am truly proud of them for their accomplishments,” says Pedro, who himself won a state championship with St Xavier as a goalkeeper in 1994.
Junior Cody Oaks, who was chosen on this year’s All-District team and scored that overtime winner against Whitefield, jokes that it was hard at first for the team to unify because when players got frustrated they started to argue in different languages.
“Even though our backgrounds are all different, our goals are all the same,” he says. “We all like to possess the ball and pass it and win, which helped out a lot too.”
Oaks, a member of United 1996 Internationals ’96 team with fellow Creeker Feryad Mezori, says there is no one player on the team that would be considered the star.
“We are brothers — we work hard and play hard,” he says. “Our future is bright since we are losing only two starting seniors and we have a lot of promising young players. I’m looking forward to next year and know we will once again be playing for the state championship.”
Below are the Indiana high school players interviewed for this month’s Vype High School Magazine’s feature for seniors’ soccer memories. You can view the digital issue, which includes a comprehensive list of all graduating players, at: http://www.ihigh.com/vypelouisville
Some high school soccer players will carry on their careers on the field into college, while for others it will be their last competitive involvement in the sport.
But they all have something in common: unforgettable memories.
Whether it was winning a postseason championship, simply getting to play and travel with schoolmates, or being moved by the sideline support, all have a moment or two they will carry with them forever.
Take, for example, Assumption’s Brandy Orth Becker from New Albany. The senior striker may have scored two crucial goals in the Rockets’ 3-1 victory over Sacred Heart on their way to winning the Kentucky girls’ Seventh Region championship, but her best high school memory involves what was happening off the field.
“Just before the whistle blew to start the game, something got my attention in the stands,” she explains. “Our parents had secretly made ‘Fatheads’ of each of us. It was hard being nervous when I kept seeing an enormous photo of my head floating in the stands. It reminded me that not only do we play for our team and our school, but also for our number one fans — our parents.”
Leah Mattingly, a Ball State University commitment, has participated in two Indiana Class A state championship games for Providence, both against Mishawaka Marian.
Winning last year’s game against the Knights in a penalty shootout as a junior was obviously a top memory, as was beating Christian Academy of Louisville with just one second left on the clock last year. But one moment that sticks out in particular was her part in the Pioneers’ victory over Floyd Central in double overtime in sectional in 2010.
“I made a run the length of the field and made to pass to Casey Marlin at the top of the box for the score,” she says.
It was a good year for Providence as a school on the soccer field as its boys’ program reached the final four of the Indiana Class A state tournament for the first time.
Top scorer Pierce Crawley, who will be heading to Bellarmine University next year, says his freshman year was very special to him because he was on the varsity team with his brother, Zev. However, this year was his top memory.
“We were unranked and no one gave us a chance of beating No. 4 Evansville Mater Dei – our soccer team made history,” he says.
Jeffersonville’s Jordan Vejar, alsobound for Bellarmine next year,says he has two memorable moments. The first one came during the 2010 Indiana regional semifinal victory over New Albany when he dribbled from midfield to score a fine individual effort.
“The best part was hearing the crowd gradually get louder and louder as I got closer to the goal,” he says.
The second came after the final buzzer of their 1-0 win against Jasper before going on to win the sectional title this fall.
“The only bit of energy I had left was to fall over and throw my arms up in the pouring rain,” he says. “That was the most collective and unified game I’ve ever played with a team and we won it because it was a family playing as a team and not just a team trying to best another team.”
Jeff teammate Brian Fischer, who will be heading for University of Southern Indiana next fall, says breaking his ankle during his freshman year probably isn’t his favorite memory, but an enduring one which had a deep effect on his character.
“Although I was out of commission for several months, it did make me realize how good I had it,” he says.
He went from breaking bones to breaking records, as the following season he claimed the school record for most goals in a season with 22, on the way to winning regional, which was “something special.”
This year saw New Albany High School win its first ever IHSAA girls’ sectional title, when beating Jasper 1-0 in the championship decider.
Tanner Marcum scored the winner in that game, but her most memorable moment came in the semifinal game when she scored the deciding kick in a penalty shootout against rival Floyd Central.
“I was very nervous as I was the last one taking a kick but I made it,” says Marcum. “It was such a euphoric feeling that I had never felt before.”
New Albany girls won their first ever IHSAA sectional title today when beating Jasper 1-0 at Floyd Central.
Senior Tanner Marcum scored the decisive goal with a fine individual effort six minutes into the second half, rocketing the ball home with her right foot from about 25 yards.
The Lady Bulldogs had several chances to kill the game off but were denied by Jasper’s stout defense, while the Wildcats were reduced to just a couple of half chances by an equally impressive New Albany back four.
They will now take on Evansville Memorial in regionals at Jasper on Wednesday (Oct 10) at 7pm.
Meanwhile, Jeffersonville took the Class 2A Sectional boys’ title against Corydon with a 4-1 victory. Goals were scored by Jordan Vejar (2), Isaiah Salazar and Leonard Kwitonda. The Red Devils will play Evansville North in the Washington Regional on Thursday, with the winner taking on Evansville Memorial or Vincennes on Saturday.
Providence reversed last year’s Sectional Class A defeat with a 2-1 win over Christian Academy of Indiana. They will now face Salem in the Switzerland County Regional semifinal on Thursday (5 p.m.)
Last year’s girls’ Class A state champions Providence hammered Switzerland County 10-0 to progress to its own Regional Championship, where they will once again take on Heritage Hills, who beat Forest Park 3-2 in overtime.
The infamous moment when French star Zinedine Zidane headbutted Italian defender Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup final has been given the statue treatment by Algerian-born artist Adel Abdessemed and stands in front of the Centre Pompidou modern art museum in Paris (above).
A record-high number of teams will participate in the 19th Annual IHSAA Soccer State Tournaments, the parings for which were revealed today.
A total of 298 boys’ and 258 girls’ teams have been entered for postseason play, which kicks off with sectionals on Monday, Oct. 1. The state championship matches will be held at a new venue, IUPUI in Indianapolis, on Saturday, Oct. 27.
In Class 2A boys, top-ranked Carmel will open against host Lebanon in Sectional 17, while defending state champs Crown Point (ranked No. 10) will meet Sectional 4 host Merrillville in its first match.
Class A defending champ and No. 5 Fort Wayne Canterbury will play host to Manchester in Sectional 40, while No. 1-ranked Guerin Catholic will host University in Sectional 47.
On the girls’ side, Class 2A defending champs and No. 1- ranked Carmel will face a test from the off against No. 10 Westfield in Sectional 17.
Providence will begin its defense of last year’s Class A state championship against Southwestern (Hanover) in Sectional 45 at Switzerland County, while top-ranked Lawrenceburg will begin its postseason at home against Union County in the Sectional 44 opener.
Here is the Hillsborough Report released today, which provides justice for the 96 supporters killed at the FA Cup semifinal game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989. Read it and try – very hard – not to get extremely angry with authority.
New Albany’s Brandy Orth Becker played an instrumental part in Louisville Assumption High School’s impressive performance at the Zionsville Lady Eagle Invitational in Indiana over the weekend.
The tournament is widely considered one of the best around for high school girls and this year it included 23 teams for Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Maryland.
The Rockets from Louisville defeated three Indiana teams – West Lafayette (3-1), Roncalli (1-0) and McCutcheon (4-0) – to come away with the championship trophy in the Boone County Division.
“The Zionsville tournament was amazing,” said starting forward Orth Becker. “The talent this tournament brings always means great competition.”
She added she is “so excited” about this season, one which currently sees Assumption ranked No. 2 in Kentucky behind last year’s state champion Notre Dame Academy.
“This is the year for the Rockets,” she said. “We came out with the goal to be our best. Our coaches Kenyon Meyer and Ollie Barber have taught us to ‘eat the elephant one bite at a time,’ or, take one game at a time. We’re all of course looking down the road to a championship, but we know we can only get there one victory at a time.”
Since their 3-1 victory over local rival Sacred Heart in the Jenna Cooper Memorial Cleat Cup on August 26, the Rockets have won five games on the trot, including a 4-2 victory over another Louisville powerhouse, DuPont Manual, last night.
“The Cleat Cup game against Sacred Heart was especially an important victory,” said Orth Becker. “With 10 seniors on our team, we definitely wanted to keep the trophy this year.”
The fourth annual “Passionately Pink for the Cure” game between New Albany and Floyd Central girls will take place at Prosser Field on September 13, but a preceding fundraising concert is to be staged at Kye’s II in Jeffersonville this Friday (September 7, from 6-11 p.m.).
Entertainment will be provided by local bands The Hi-tops, The Juice Box Heroes and Rachel Timberlake.
There will also be a silent auction with all proceeds from the night going to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Breast Cancer Fund. Appetizers will be served by Tumbleweed.
“We have many local vendors involved and a big sponsorship from Lucas Oil,” said New Albany team manager, Rhonda Iglesias. “The concert is a fun way to raise money for a cause that affects us all.”
Iglesias said the boys’ teams are also getting involved this year and will be holding their own game the same night as the girls at Floyd Central.
“All teams will be wearing pink to show their support for the cause,” she said. “Each year we gain more support from the community to help us raise money for this cause and we’re excited to see what this year will bring.”
Tickets for the concert are $10 in advance ($12 at the door) and can be purchased at any Floyd Central or New Albany home soccer game, from performing artists, or by calling 502-724-1594.
Three of the area’s high school teams participated at the 2012 Hoosier Cup in Bloomington, Indiana, this weekend with varying fortunes.
A total of 42 teams from all over Indiana and Kentucky competed in this year’s event in better-than-expected weather.
Floyd Central’s girls (4-0-2) are showing good form ahead of tonight’s home encounter against rival Providence ( 3-3), a game which kicks off at 7 p.m. The Highlanders went through the weekend unbeaten in their three games at Karst Farm Park.
Lewie Stevens’ charges opened up their account in the Ella Bull Pool with a 7-0 victory over Richmond on Friday. Ellie Stewart and Ali Host netted two goals apiece in the win over the Red Devils, with Kelsey Shireman, Christine Clark and Mariah Ferber adding the others.
However, the real heroics came Saturday when Floyd Central came back from a three-goal halftime deficit to tie Plainfield 3-3. Cylie Miller and Ferber scored on Lauren Wyatt assists to pull the Highlanders right back into the game.
Then McKenzie Garringer added a third on a Stewart assist to guarantee the Highlanders a share of the spoils.
Floyd Central rounded out the tournament with a creditable 1-1 tie against Castle, with Lauren Wyatt scoring the opener from a Stewart assist. Castle won the pool on goal difference.
On the boys’ side, Jeffersonville (4-3-2) went through the Warren Brown Pool without scoring, picking up a tie and suffering two losses.
The Red Devils opened up with a 3-0 defeat against Class 2A Sectional 30 rival and current champion Jasper on Friday, but bounced back to tie 0-0 with Richmond on Saturday morning.
Carson Webb’s boys then fell 2-0 to pool winners South Bend Adams in their final game.
Next up for Jeffersonville is a home matchup against Jennings County, winners of the Nick Matavuli Pool 2 at the Hoosier Cup, on Saturday (12 noon).
In the Michael O’Dea Pool, Providence (2-4-2)lost to Vincennes 6-0 but fought hard for a 3-3 tie with Heritage Christian with a brace of goals from Pierce Crawley and a third from John Murray. Evan Hollkamp had two assists, while Andrew Wimp had one.
Providence play at North Harrison tomorrow (Wednesday), before games at home to Decatur Central (Saturday) and away to New Albany (September 11).
A record number of the area’s players start their collegiate soccer careers this month.
Floyd Central girls’ graduates account for a large chunk of those carrying on their soccer careers, with no fewer than six playing college ball this fall.
One of them, Loryn Queen, has already gotten off to a flyer, scoring in her very first game for Division I outfit University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
In the Lady Mocs’ 6-0 win over cross-town rival Tennessee Temple last week, Queen started off her college career in midfield, where she chipped in with an assist, before scoring when moved up front.
“I am loving it so far,” said Queen, who was leading scorer for the Highlanders last year with 16 goals. “It’s a great challenge and it has pushed me to become more mature with the game. The coaches and upperclassmen have made being away from home much easier.”
It also helps that her old Javanon club teammate Logan Higgins from Assumption joins her on the program, while on the academic side, having a great physical therapy course was a great pull.
“And after visiting the school, I chose UTC because of the beautiful campus, the coaches and the players. They were all so welcoming I felt right at home,” said Queen.
Casey Marlin, Providence’s all-time highest career scorer with 95 goals, has chosen to study and play soccer at Lenoir-Rhyne University, located in Hickory, North Carolina.
The program, part of the South Atlantic Conference, is coming off back-to-back regular-season championships, as well and subsequent berths in the NCAA Division II national tournament.
The Bears are ranked ninth in the country preseason and much is expected of the team under new coach Cally Morrill.
Marlin said Lenoir-Rhyne, while having a successful soccer program, also has a sense of community that appealed to her.
“I think it is a challenge to be seven hours away from home with people I don’t know in an area I’m not familiar with, but I think it will be a great growing and learning experience,” she said.
Marlin will once again wear the No. 10 jersey she so successfully adorned during high school — a career which culminated in an Indiana Class A State championship with the Pioneers.
She said she believes the experience has really helped her thus far in what has been a rigorous preseason.
“It’s probably the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life but it’ll pay off,” she said. “I do think college is tougher because there is much more time put into it and it is a higher level of playing, but I’d say I’m prepared for it thanks to my experiences with Providence.”
The Bears’ first game will see them take on Georgia College in the Lenoir Rhyne Classic on Friday, August 31.
Also starting its fall campaign on Friday is NCAA Division III outfit Transylvania University, ranked No. 1 in preseason polls to repeat its 2011 feat of finishing atop the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Amongst the Pioneers’ new recruits are Nick Blackwell (New Albany) and Brett Bass (Providence).
Blackwell, who plays with two-time national league runner-up and six-time state champion Javanon ‘94, follows in the footsteps of Bulldog brothers Matt and Nick Karaffa, who both played with Transy.
“I am most thankful about getting an opportunity to play in college because it was always one of my goals to play college soccer and I am truly blessed to have this chance,” he said.
Blackwell said he chose Transylvania as it is a good blend of soccer and academics that will help him pursue his goals in life, one of which is coaching.
“I have taken part in coaching the New Albany boys’ team this summer with Dutch Vigar and Dietrich Rudolph, and while attending Transy, the players can help coach club at Lexington FC, which is a great way for me to help further my coaching career and help build a foundation for it.”
Bass, meanwhile, plays club soccer with United 1996, will become the second Providence defender to play with the Transylvania, the other having been Ryan Sparks.
Like many who have played at Transy, coach Brandon Bowman — now in his 10th year at the Lexington college — was a factor when Bass was choosing where to go.
“I met with Coach Bowman and really enjoyed my visit and loved the campus,” said Bass. “Transy has consistently been strong in soccer year after year under him and that influenced my decision.
“There are a lot of juniors here with a lot of experience and it’s been challenging as the game is faster. It’s nice also having other freshmen I know like Nick Blackwell and some United teammates here.”
The Pioneers’ first game is against Berea College at the Little Caesar’s College Showcase in Lexington on Friday, August 31.
Starting their collegiate soccer careers…
Brett Bass (Providence/Transylvania, Lexington, Ky.); Nick Blackwell (New Albany/Transylvania, Lexington, Ky.); Danny Laird (Floyd Central/Northern Kentucky, Ky.); Caleb Moore (Christian Academy of Indiana/Huntington, Ind.); Chris Smith (Christian Academy of Indiana/Huntington, Ind.); Gabe Stewart (St Xavier, Henryville native/Lipscomb, Nashville, Tenn.); Rebekah Burgan (Floyd Central & Jeffersonville/Parkland College, Ill.); Lauren Haley (Floyd Central/Ohio University, Ohio); Cassie Holland (Floyd Central/Asbury, Ky.); Casey Marlin (Providence/Lenoir-Rhyne, Hickory, N.C.); Taylor Patty (Floyd Central/Southern Indiana, Evansville, Ind.); Alysen Shireman (Floyd Central, 2011 graduate, first year at Campbellsville University, Ky.). Loryn Queen (Floyd Central/University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Tenn.); Ashley Walls (Christian Academy of Indiana, 2011 graduate, first year at Asbury, Ky.)