Warriors overcoming small numbers to compete with best teams in the league

Cole Hadley, 7, goes shoulder-to-shoulder with a Blanchester player in the Warriors’ 5-2 win over the Wildcats. Hadley is one of seven seniors on the Goshen roster.

Cole Hadley, 7, goes shoulder-to-shoulder with a Blanchester player in the Warriors’ 5-2 win over the Wildcats. Hadley is one of seven seniors on the Goshen roster.
By Chris Chaney
Sun staff

The Goshen Warriors boys’ soccer program is making positive strides despite what you may gather from simply looking at their win-loss (and draw) record. Sitting at 3-4-4, the Warriors find themselves in the bottom half of the Southern Buckeye Conference standings, but have proven that they have the talent and ability to play with the best teams the league has to offer.

Expectations coming into the season had to be curbed a bit simply from a man-power standpoint, head coach Brett Buechner said, with injuries being an inevitability, but the Warriors have picked up a handful of guys throughout the course of the season and have even exceeded some of those early projections.

“We started off the season with only 13 players and out of the 13 we had four or five freshmen,” Buechner said. “So, obviously we’re a very young team and with just having 13, we had some concerns going into the season and actually we’ve done better than expected. I wish some of those ties could have ended up being wins.

“In the past, with those numbers and being so young, you would expect some blowouts, but we’ve been right in there every game. The score does not always reflect the level of play out on the field.”

The Warriors went their first six games of the season without claiming the first victory, starting 0-4-2, unfortunately with four of those six games coming against conference opponents. However, the level of talent Buechner was running out onto the pitch was evident in the pair of draws Goshen secured against New Richmond and Amelia, two of the top teams not only in the SBC, but in the area.

As the coach said, despite the outcomes, the level of play was better than the results. Over those first six games, the Warriors’ biggest defeat was a three goals to none loss to Bethel-Tate.

Since that initial skid, the Warriors have found a way to create more consistent offensive threats, winning their next three games in a row over interdivision SBC foes by a combined 11-2 and drawing the next two matches against Georgetown and Norwood.

The reason for the abundance of draws, perhaps at the cost of more victories is Buechner’s strategy to keep his team in every game by playing his most experienced players on defense.

“Being low on numbers and heavy with freshmen, we play a lot of our better players back on defense to protect the goal,” Buechner explained. “We have Travis (Scheadler) and Cole (Hadley) as our center defenders. They’re very solid back there in the back and they’ve kept us in some of those games. We also try to get them to make runs forward to get balls in the attack.”

Scheadler and Hadley are playing ahead of one of Buechner’s most pleasant surprises: goalkeeper Chris Treadway.

“This is really the first time he’s played keeper for us,” Buechner said of the Blanchester transfer. “We really needed someone to step up and play that position this year.

“I can’t say enough about the kid. He’s born to play that position. For being as new to it as he is, he’s right on, he makes all the right calls and has had a great year making great saves and kept us in a lot of those games that ended up being ties.”

Buechner is expecting that defense to stand pat and the Warriors’ improving offense to score some more in the final four-game stretch of the season. Beginning with a rematch with New Richmond on Oct. 1, Goshen began a closing stretch of league games that culminates with an away game at Western Brown on Oct. 10 to wrap up the season.

For Buechner and his squad the goals and expectations for this last stretch are simple: keep improving.

“It’s always the goal to finish the year better than you (started),” the coach said. “You like to see your guys improve and your team come together towards the end of the year.

But it’s tough because everyone else is expecting the same thing. I fully expect the teams we’re playing — they’re coached well — I expect them to be better than the first time we played them as well.”