Men’s Soccer starts season with winning streak

Losing to Waterloo West High School last year 3-0 early on in their season left the men’s soccer team hungry for a revenge game. The team filled the hole left by West by defeating their rival West, 2-0, at the beginning of this year.

The team acted as a cohesive unit and attacked on the field according to junior player Matthew Cook. “We came off really strong, attacking, which is what I like. Just putting that goal against them felt really good to me,” he said.

Senior Chimzim Ogbondah and junior Benny Bundi played among the leaders within Cedar Falls’ back line, while senior goalkeeper acted as a key communicator in the game.

The long craved win against their Metro rivalry West was a big accomplishment for the team. “That’s always the most important game for pretty much all of the soccer guys. Because we play with a lot of the West kids on our club teams and it’s just a rivalry game, so that kind of means the most to everyone,” Cook said.

The sweet victory also kicked off a string of victories. Their only loss came on Friday, April 13 in a close contest against Waverly-Shell Rock, 1-2. “We’ve had a great start to the season so far.  We are sitting at 5-1 right now. The entire team has been cohesive, and the guys have done a great job of holding each other accountable in making sure the standards are high in matches and practice,’’ Coach Spencer Steffy said .

Steffy attributes the team’s impressive record to the teamwork from the men and the hard work put in on the field during games and practice. “The effort and work ethic is something that we worked very hard on throughout the off season. It is better than what we’ve seen in years’ past, and the effort and hard work is paying off,” he said.

One of the team’s key their success is their strong defense. “It is our defense

The players not only work together on the field, but senior Chimzim Ogbondah said the chemistry and friendship within the team has enabled them to act as a single mighty force during games. “We all have been playing together competitive soccer since we were younger kids, and for my grade, we’ve been on varsity since we were sophomores, and the grade under us started as sophomores, so, this is going to be our third year playing together, so we are all probably a lot more comfortable playing together. We’re used to each other, and our team chemistry has gone up,” he said.

Leadership amongst the team has also gone increased throughout this season. “We went through a lot of growing pains last year,” Steffy said. “This year leadership-wise the seniors that we do have, have done a great job of turning things around. The group made a valiant effort in the offseason to take a step forward.”

To add to the leadership that the team has continuously been building for years, the men started a leadership group this season. The group is made up of five experienced players who can lead the team and act as role models on and off the field. The five leaders help lead the team effectively when the coach is not able to be present at practice.

The leadership group not only benefits the team in practice, but installs confidence between the boys on the field. “I will admit I get a little nervous and I know if it gets by them I have to get that ball,” said Burken, who has defended the net in all four wins. “But with them in front my confidence builds with every attack. It also helps when we can get the lead first.”

The five leaders consist of  Ogbondah, senior Benny Bundi and juniors Harrison Hall, Oskar Brocka and Cook. Ogbondah says that this group has help round him as a person.“I gained a lot of leadership skills. I know how to project myself. I know how I should look as a leader so that people will look up to me. It’s rounded me more as a person,” Ogbondah said.

After an unsatisfying season last year, the team has formulated a strategy and team with aspirations of making a run in playoffs. Their strategy consists of a node in the middle field, with a couple of guys leading the whole team from the middle field.

“We orchestrate everything through the mid-field. We just have someone who is always constantly talking. Letting us know what passes we should give, how to orchestrate the team and what we see as weaknesses in the opposing team, so that way we could just formulate to pretty much put our throat on the other team and not let up,” Ogbondah said.

The team plans keep defeating the other teams, and comeback from their only defeat last Friday against. Waverly Shell Rock. The team has battled snow and bad weather, but with their determination and hard work that they have been displaying at games, the team has been able to clinch some great victories and game defying moments. “My favorite game moment to this point would have to be Cade McCann’s game winning goal at Jefferson last week.  We needed a goal in a very bad way and Cade hustled out two defenders and scored a nice goal, with all off of his effort. It clinched a win and fired up the boys to see out the 2-1 victory,” said Steffy.

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