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Season Review: Boys Soccer

Whitey Kapsalis continues to like Cathedral High School boy’s soccer’s direction.

That remains a focus for the third-year head coach, and it was a priority throughout a 2019 season in which the team overcame early obstacles for a strong finish.

The Irish’s ’19 season was in no way easy.

But a strong finish has Kapsalis increasingly optimistic about what he considers a bright future.

“We got it together and got rolling,” Kapsalis said.

The Irish had a season with what Kapsalis called a few “speed bumps along the way” in 2019, but finished with a 9-9-2 record with city and sectional titles. The season ended with a 3-2 loss to eventual Class 3A state-champion Zionsville in a regional semifinal at Carmel High School.

“It became pretty fun toward the end, for sure,” Kapsalis said.

Kapsalis said the Irish continue to buy into a team concept, and that that helped throughout the ‘19 season.

“We all want to have impact and play a major role in this journey,” Kapsalis said. “From game to game or over the course of a season. Sometimes, not everybody can be the guy. So, understanding our roles we play and embracing that to the best of our ability is what I’m talking about.

“That’s happening, and that’s encouraging. I’m really proud of how our players embraced each other along the way.”

Kapsalis said it was that camaraderie and chemistry that led to what he called “a great run in the latter part of the season.” The Irish, after losing four consecutive games late in the season, won five consecutive games to win the city and advance in the postseason.

They won the city title with a 3-1 victory over Heritage Christian in the semifinal and a 2-1 victory over Cardinal Ritter in the title game. They then followed that by beating Franklin Central 3-2 in the sectional semifinal.

The Irish won the sectional title with a 1-0 overtime victory over Lawrence North.

Senior midfielder Nick Victor, a three-year varsity player, scored 10 goals in the final six games – and Kapsalis said the offensive production helped spark Cathedral late.

“It was incredible to watch him put it all together and get absolutely on fire in that run,” Kapsalis said. “It was as impressive an individual performance as I’ve seen. It seemed like when we needed a goal, Nick Victor was the guy who got us a goal.

“When you get a goal-scorer, it changes things for you. In soccer, you’re always looking for goals. When someone can step up in that regard and put his team on his back and say, ‘I’m the guy … I’m going to go get how many goals we need to win this game …’ a team can really rally around that.”

Also key late was a stifling defense that stabilized the back end.

“We started making fewer mistakes,” Kapsalis said.

Centerback Brent Gleason along with Victor was key, as was four-year varsity player and captain/forward Matt Welch (five goals, five assist) – who Kapsalis called an engine for the team. Senior forward Ethan Caldwell also served as a captain.

“Those guys from a leadership standpoint did great,” Kapsalis said.

Also key: Reid Brenton, who Kapsalis called a spark of energy off the bench who played at a level that elevated his teammates. Roman Sally, a transfer student, also contributed to the Irish’s success.

Kapsalis said he is optimistic about the Irish underclassmen, a group he said is ready to “step up and assume leadership roles.”

“We’ve got some good goalkeeping coming back,” Kapsalis said. “We’ve got some offensive weapons coming back and we had a really good jayvee year as well. I’m very optimistic and hopeful. I’d like for these boys to advance through the regional. I’d like for them to get over the cusp of beating a [team such as perennial powers] Zionsville or North Central.

“That’s always going to be the tallest task, but we’re chipping away at it. I like what’s returning best year.”

Mostly, Kapsalis said he liked the team’s overall approach to building a program he believes has a bright short-term and long-term future.

“We took steps forward in terms of culture and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Kapsalis said. “If you know me, it’s more than just wins and losses. Culturally and as a program and what we’re really trying to accomplish in building something special … yes, we continue to grow in that regard.

“I’m just so blessed to work with great young kids who want to be coached with a holistic approach as opposed to just Xs and Os. I don’t know that it translates in a two-month season or over a 10-year period, but we’re going to see it play out.

“We continue to make progress in that, the most important, regard.”

   
 

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