The first season of Portsmouth Trojans soccer since 2004 ended Saturday morning with their sectional loss at West Union at the hands of the Dragons, 5-1.
“We came out strong” said Trojans head coach Noah Fannin following their loss, “We had the right mindset. Our job was to come out here and be competitive and I think we were. First half we looked pretty good, we got a little tired. We weren’t used to this 40 degree weather, it’s typically been 80. Still competitive, so I’m happy with that.”
The Trojans lone goal of the contest came with 16:00 left in the first half when senior Sydney Edwards found the back of the net on a rebound shot to cut their deficit to 3-1 after West Union was able to create some scoring opportunities in the earlier portion of the half. The score would remain tied at 3-1 heading into the halftime break, but the Dragons were able to extend their lead to 5-1 in the later stages of the match, sealing the Trojans fate.
“She said she just stuck her foot out” said Fannin when discussing Edwards goal, “I told her sometimes that’s all it takes. Maybe it’ll make contact, and it finally did; that’s her second goal this year. She’s probably our program’s first female goal scorer since 2001.”
Yes, the Trojans were only able to win one match in their season slate. All new upstart programs face issues in their first year, especially a program where most of the kids who are playing have never played a second of organized soccer prior to this season.
The exception to this rule, of course, is the Las Vegas Knights of the NHL who made the Stanley Cup Finals this past season in their first season of existence. But still, they were a team that was full of professional hockey players whose actual profession was to play hockey, something they had been doing their entire lives.
It is much more difficult to do what the members of this young soccer program are doing led by first time head coach Noah Fannin. It takes time, effort, and resources to develop a winning culture and a winning program like Fannin is attempting to do. Players have to have practiced for years to develop the necessary stamina and skills to be able to compete with area teams who will make deep runs in this year’s post season.
Throughout the match, the players for Portsmouth were constantly encouraging one another to do their best and give their best effort. And to be honest, it worked. A team that was led by five seniors who were playing in their final match of their first season of organized soccer was competitive and intense for the entire length of the match.
“All season long it’s been like that” said Fannin after his team’s senior night match vs. Fairland last Thursday night, “Even when we’re down by multiple goals, they still keep their heads up. I feel like that’s been our mentality this whole year.”
On the Trojans senior night, Fannin and his assistant coach, Kyle Spiegel, had an interesting idea to reward their players on their hard work and determination throughout the season. “Our thought was, let’s let these guys play wherever they wanted” said Fannin, “So I pulled them aside today at school and said, ‘Think all day long about where you’d love to play.’”
The players took to the idea and selected the position they wanted to play, and Fannin even found that moving senior Gage Mosley to the goalie position opened up some new opportunities for his team as they headed down the home stretch prior to Saturday’s game.
After their senior night, the five Trojans seniors were very uplifting about their experiences playing soccer this season.
“I wish we had been able to play all four years of high school” said senior Myquel McKinley, “Now we’re all a family.”
“I wasn’t friends with anyone on this team, but now we’re all really good friends” said senior Gage Mosley.
When asked if they were glad they played soccer for the upstart program, all five emphatically agreed.
“The community support has been great” said Fannin, “The kids have been great, and I knew that going in because I have them in class. But the community support for things that they didn’t even have to be involved in has been amazing. We did a fundraiser earlier in the season, people gave money that don’t even go to Portsmouth, they don’t even have kids that go to Portsmouth. They just wanted to help out.”
Moving forward into the first offseason, Fannin has a very positive outlook on where the program stands. “The junior high team looks great” said Fannin, “But they’re very young, they’re mainly seventh graders. So not next year, but the second season, we have a lot of people coming up, a lot of talent coming up. I think in about three or four years we’re going to have a huge team. I’m excited to be able to have try outs because I want to have that many people down here just to be able to say that there’s that much interest.”
After West Union’s win Saturday morning, they will go on to face Northwest at Roy Rogers field at 7:00 p.m. following the conclusion of the Lady Mohawks match with Piketon.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT