It’s no secret that for a soccer team to find success in the regular season and beyond, the players need to be able to work well together and find the right mix of talent and chemistry.
While the offense is at one end of the field, looking for scoring chances and the recognition that comes with blasting a ball into an unreachable part of the net, the goalie is left manning an empty patch of grass, alert for any sniff of a counter-attack.
If a team is dominant offensively, the goalie could get mistakenly lost in the shuffle of a highlight-reel goal. But a rock-solid goalie can completely change a game if his or her offense goes into a scoring slump.
Area teams that are off to fast starts this season all have one thing in common — a goalie who can make the tough saves and effectively call the game from between his or her posts.
Perhaps the top goaltender in the area, playing for a team off to the type of start that has become almost routine for the program, is Danville’s Jon Hauck.
The senior net-minder gained added experience last season as the Ironmen reached the state playoffs, winning their first-round game.
Already established as a standout, Hauck has solidified his position among the top keepers, with five shutouts this season for a Danville team that has started 6-3.
“He’s a big stability for us (and) to our defense,” Danville coach Brian Dressler said of Hauck. “Last year, he played every single minute of every game. Our defense is a bit newer this year (and) he really helps those guys with experience and keeps them calm.”
Midd-West may not have one goalie that sees every minute of every game like Danville has, but the Mustangs have found the right balance between their net-minders, as they currently sit without a loss.
Paige Kauffman and Brynn Markley have shared time in goal for coach Russ Goodling and the Mustangs this year and the switches have worked, as Midd-West is 6-0-2.
While Derek Stine did not have someone with the experience of a Jon Hauck to put in goal for the Southern Columbia girls, he found an unexpected keeper to lead the Tigers.
Stine turned to junior Blair Johnston in goal and the first-year keeper has helped to lead the Tigers to a 4-1-2 record.
While Johnston may not have started between the pipes before this season, the multi-sport athlete is the starting catcher for Southern Columbia’s softball team, showing an ability to lead from an essential defensive position.
“Blair is stepping up,” Stine said. “She kind of stepped into a role we hadn’t expected her to.”
Johnston may be new to the position, but she has demonstrated the work ethic to quickly become comfortable.
“She’s a hard worker,” Stine said. “She’ll stay late if she has to. She does whatever she has to do to improve.”