Baptism by fire for Falcons

TMHS will face stiff tests in first year of Southeast Conference soccer play

Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

For most new high school sports programs, going into competition against traditional, successful programs is a rite of passage.

Matthew Tynan / Juneau Empire
Matthew Tynan / Juneau Empire

With teams like Ketchikan and Juneau-Douglas in its conference, the Thunder Mountain boys' soccer team will have its mettle tested against two of the better teams in the state.

Initiation begins Friday evening at Ketchikan.

"They're always good competition so those will a good first couple of games, and we'll make changes from there," said coach Kiel Urata. "I want to see them try to make the runs that we've been teaching them in practice, try to make the passes for each other, try and get open for each other and just do the things we've worked on.

"If they do these things and execute, we'll come out on top."

Like the Falcons girls' soccer team, the boys are chock full of youth and inexperience. And also like their Thunder Mountain counterparts, they are up for the challenge.

"We're obviously going through the growing pains, but we've got some really good kids out here. They're putting in more effort than I honestly could have expected them to put in," assistant coach Ry Walters said. "They've been a coach's dream as far as that goes

"It's been a great process because a lot of these kids probably wouldn't have gotten the chance to play at other schools (because of their youth), and here they have the ability to step in right away. It's been good for everybody."

On a team that features nine freshmen, both coaches said this season is all about the kids gaining experience.

"My expectation, as this team goes, is to grow and get better," Walters said. "Everybody has room for improvement, and I expect them to grow as people both on and off the field."

"You see that improvement throughout the year because they are so young, and some are a bit inexperienced," Urata added. "Day one, they have trouble with one pass. And by day 60, that pass is made with complete ease.

"It's already becoming apparent (and) players are filling in positions well."

Urata, a former Juneau-Douglas soccer player, said Ketchikan will present a good matchup for the young Falcons, who are about to start play in the difficult conference.

"Ketchikan hasn't taken the Southeast (Conference) in... I'm not sure ever. But that's only because JDHS has been so good at the state level," he said. "It just shows that it's a tough position to be in because only one team goes to state."

Though making it to the state tournament in Juneau May 27-29 might be a lofty goal, the Falcons are taking their first steps toward building a successful program.

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