INDEPENDENCE — The first match for the Parsons Vikings boys soccer program saw the defending SEK League champions on the ropes, possibly an evolution of what the immediate future of the program holds.
Parsons, on the road facing the Independence Bulldogs, dropped the inaugural match of Viking soccer by a 2-0 score.
“Our defense held the SEK champs to only two in the first match ever for us,” Parsons head coach Caleb Reid said. “Our defense was phenomenal all night. Our shallow bench overcame with cardio. Our kids were exhausted but recognized their full potential.”
Independence’s two goals came at the 20-minute and 34-minute mark from Jase Mavers and Gustavo Prieto respectively.
“I got one glimpse at a really tough SEK League team, and I hope they got a look at a new contender,” Reid said.
The Vikings got their fair share of opportunities in the match. Ethan Wheat led Parsons with four shots on goal while Frantisek Pavlovsky added one. Paxton Swanson also had a handful of shots that just missed the target.
“Our kids have never seen any competition and they spent every minute out on the pitch learning,” Reid said. “Now they know where they’re at. I was so happy with our results.”
It was a wet Thursday for the debut of the Vikings’ program, negated in part by the turf field at Independence. Reid admitted there were nerves going into the match.
“There was obviously some stress to go along with it,” Reid said. “Some of these kids had never seen a turf field. From the first moments off the bus, it was nervous energy and excitement and goosebumps. We climbed there together to make this happen and the kids finally got some fruit off the vine.”
Parsons goalkeeper Landon Wheat put together a stellar performance, saving 15 shots on goal the Bulldogs booted at him.
“He has an incredible range,” Reid said. “He’s got the wingspan to match it. A lot of their attempts near the post that manage to sneak in, he was able to stop them. When our defense was tired, he was able to suppress it.”
While a competitive match against a defending league champion is eye-opening for a first-year program, Reid doesn’t want to lose sight of the long term goals for the Vikings.
“I’m still going to stick with the foundations that we have to learn this game first,” Reid said. “Yeah, we’ve got this athletic ability. But we had breakouts where we didn’t know where to pass. We’ve got to keep the grounded nature we have right now.”
The starting lineup for Parsons — the first 11 players to take the pitch for Vikings soccer — included Landon Wheat in goal, backers Daniel Jauregui, Brandon Brungardt, Jacob Yeoman and Gannon Friess, midfielders Brayden Casper, Frantisek Pavlovsky and Aidan Wheat, wings Paxton Swanson and Ethan Wheat and forward Brady West.
After the match, Reid went back to the drawing board to prepare adjustments for his team.
“As soon as I got on the bus, I just listed everything that I could,” Reid said. “Indy was really good at pressing a high attack, so we need to force it outside. Indy cleared their lines really well, so we’ll have to work on our ball control. We’re clocking back in.”
Parsons travels to Baldwin City on Monday and will eventually make its home debut on Sept. 29.
“That was everything that I thought it was going to be,” Reid said. “I had no idea what the outcome of our first match was going to be. I didn’t even stress about that. I just wanted us to look like a team, play like a team and have foundational skills. We checked all of that. It was a day of firsts, but we’re going to get better.”