El Dorado Wildcats boys' soccer hoping growing pains early in the season turns into results down the road

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
El Dorado's Tucker Morgan (3) dribbles up field in the 2021 season opener against Mulvane on Monday, Aug. 30 at Lyle Couch Stadium in Mulvane, Kansas.

MULVANE, Kansas — There were some things for El Dorado boys’ soccer lost their season opener to the Mulvane Wildcats where you just shook your head but for head coach Jared Brant, there was a lot to build upon.

The Wildcats are coming off a winless season where they only scored two goals, while allowing 84. They also have a 17-game losing streak on the books. Gone is all-league keeper, Jett Roberts but the future doesn’t seem as dim as it was last year. They seem more organized and more disciplined than the prior years.

Enter first year head coach Brant, despite him never being a head coach, the Wildcats administration and himself are pretty high on this team that is filled with more freshman (6) than there are upperclassmen (5). The hope is there and the thought this could turn around and be a successful season, is there.

For Brant, he understands what the Wildcats are going through as he was a part of something similar when he was younger. Instead of playing on a storied youth club team, he was on a team called the River City Nitro, an independent club. Brant took on some losses and sneaked out some victories.

He also saw the outcome of the hard work as he helped Bishop Carroll turn around their program to the success it is today. In the end, he knew what he had to do to be successful.

You can tell from some of the possessions, the Wildcats are inexperienced and their ability to open their body to receive a pass and turn of up field was limited. They seemed to shy away from some contact, especially in the first half, where they would have rather give up possession than get a foul called against them. 

“I told them at halftime that it’s a contact sport,” Brant said. “I played goal keeper and I’ve been hit plenty with no calls.”

The Wildcats want to be a physical team without being dirty and that means playing to the whistle and not afraid to make contact when going for a ball. 

There are things that are there that give you hope about this team. 

Set pieces seemed to be efficient for El Dorado. The set pieces are the lifeblood of quality soccer. According to the Washington Post, you are more than 50 percent higher to find a goal on a set piece than a normal shot attempt, showing how important it is to have quality set pieces. Much like a fast break in basketball or a penalty-man advantage, it can give your team a leg up when they are set. They had a free kick into the box that led to a shot and a cross late in the match that was put into the box but defended well by Mulvane. 

“It’s going to take a guy that wants to hunt the ball,” Brant said on how to finish those set pieces. “I’m still waiting on that guy to emerge.”

Could that player be junior Aodfionn Mora-Bruce? He played well when he had his opportunities and seems to have the speed to crash into the box as we saw him sprint down the wing. Miguel Lopez is another one who could eventually grow to be a real threat on set pieces. Then, there is Ty Peffly, who has real potential to be a leader on this team.

Despite the youth and the score, El Dorado never gave up chase. They put the ball on net a couple of times and attacked in the midfield when they had possession. 

“I thought we did well in the midfield when we had possession,” Brant said. “We’ll continue to get better with possession and with our feet.”

Then, there is sophomore keeper, EJ Krug. He was peppered much like Roberts was last year and he stood his ground. He made diving saves, deflections and made clearances that kept Mulvane out of the back of the net. 

“EJ [Krug] worked hard tonight,” Brant said. “Credit to Mulvane, they hit a lot of really hard shots tonight. That 41-yard shot was tough.”

Krug finished with 12 saves on the night.

The final score on Monday wasn’t important but hitting those team goals and getting better tactically that are building toward the larger end, which is what Brant wants. 

“They could pay me nothing,” Brant said “I would still be out here for these boys.

“That’s how much I care about them already.” 

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.