As one of Christian Academy of Indiana’s soccer programs goes from strength to strength, another disbands.
The boys’ varsity team at the New Albany based school is looking forward to an exciting season, one which will culminate in participation in the first ever IHSAA Class A tournament.
However, the three year old girls’ program has been postponed due to lack of participation until next year, athletic director Chris Harper told Kick It.
“This was an unfortunate event as CAI soccer has become a staple in the southern Indiana community,” he said.
Last fall, under the stewardship of JD Dai, the team won its first ever postseason games when beating North Harrison and Charlestown to make it to the semifinals of a competitive nine-team sectional.
The numbers, at a school with an enrollment last year of 169 from 9th to 12th grades, just weren’t there to put a team on the field this fall.
However, the Warriors hope that increasing participation in soccer at middle school level, where its program has 20-plus players, will help to resurrect the girls’ team in the not too distant future.
“Though this year we will not be fielding a team, our girls have begun preparing for the next year,” said Harper.
In fact, soccer is poised for future growth, said the school’s new AD, thanks to the addition this year of a program at elementary level, where there is an enrollment of 300 plus.
“This will help feed up through the varsity levels,” said Harper. “These types of preventive measures help ensure the future success of boys’ and girls’ soccer at CAI.”
Boys’ head coach Will Lorigan said one of the hard parts about coaching at a private school is the uncertainty of knowing whether or not you can field a team.
“You never know who you’ll have from year to year because of transfers, people leaving, and people coming in, he said. “Even now (with the boys), we still don’t have a settled number of players because there may be one or two more.”
Meanwhile, Lorigan said the boys’ goal this year is to adjust and develop throughout the following weeks in order to field its strongest team at sectional time.
Standing in the way at the Class A event will be host Providence, Rock Creek, Silver Creek and North Harrison.
“Our number one hurdle, which it has been for the last few years, is getting past Providence,” said Lorigan.
Last year, they came mighty close. After losing 6-0 to the Pioneers in the regular season, they pushed them all the way in the postseason, falling in a penalty shootout in a sectional semifinal encounter.
“While we didn’t win, we took another huge step in the right direction,” said the New Zealander.
“That being said, we can’t under-estimate teams like North Harrison, who have a lot of upset potential, and Rock Creek, who can field a very athletic team. Ultimately winning a sectional is still a very difficult task, which is the way it should be.”
This fall, CAI’s strengths will be in defense where brothers Caleb and Josh Moore will pose a problem for the opposition, along with goalkeeper Tyler Stumler.
“Tyler should have a big year for us in goal, while Caleb is a solid presence in our backfield and has been for the last couple of seasons,” said Lorigan.
Midfielder Chris Smith will also be an important cog in the Warrior wheel.
Smith, who scored in a 1-1 tie with Scottsburg in CAI’s season opener on Saturday, was injured for most of last season, but Lorigan said he “will be dominant” in the middle this time round.