For most programs, losing eight starters from a state championship soccer team might be reason to lower expectations and focus on rebuilding.
That is not the case at Gibault, where success in boys soccer has become a sort of birthright.
Despite losing the core of last fall’s title-winning team, the Hawks aren’t changing their goals.
“I think these younger players are hungry for a long postseason run,” head coach Matt Reeb said. “We are realistic in the sense that we know we are not last year’s team, but I think the program has built an expectation that we are going to be a ‘tough out’ in the postseason.”
Gibault will look to some fresh faces to help carry on the winning tradition. Dylan Mc-Coy, Jake Rueter and Caleb Schilling will see major minutes on the back line, while Luc Epplin and Trevor Davis are in a fierce competition for the starting goalkeeper job.The 2014 Gibault Catholic High School soccer team is, front row, from left, Tim Murphy, Robert
Lugge, Zach Gillan, Aaron Grohmann, Jordan Floerke, Josh Hooser, Henry Babcock, Dan Haller,
James Haller and Logan Lannom; middle row: Owen Murphy, Ben Mueth, Blake Grisham, Josh
Witges, Dylan McCoy, Jacob Rueter, Ryan Gool, Gabe Howlett, Dylan Scace, Caleb Schilling and
Carter Kesler; and back row: Ethan Schilling, Jacob Hooser, Zach Rueter, Trevor Davis, Lucas Epplin,
Andrew Reinholz, Austin Murphy, Ethan Shields and Johnny Francescon. (submitted photo)
On the attacking side of the ball, sophomores Dalton Scace and Ben Mueth are hoping to become offensive mainstays. While new to the starting lineup, these players are not lacking in confidence.
“Our younger players are not afraid of anything,” Reeb said.
That being said, Reeb is counting on some veteran leadership to ease the learning process for the newer players.
Seniors Andrew Reinholz, Ethan Shields and Zach Rueter all played key roles in the Hawks’ championship run last year, and they will take on even greater responsibilities this season.
Reinholz will once again be the cornerstone of the defense, providing strength and stability.
Shields and Rueter, meanwhile, are expected to “do a lot of scoring” for the Hawks this fall. Reeb thinks that the trio’s experience is just as important as their talent.
“Their experience is important because they understand what it takes to win big games,” Reeb said. “They have been in pressure situations before with the season on the line and they have the mental mindset to succeed in those situations. Hopefully, their leadership will help us ease the nerves of some of our younger players.
“The seniors from last year did not get to where they did without having some bumps in the road and learning experiences along the way,” Reeb continued. “I am sure my younger group will have the same, but it is nice to have several players that have been there and know what it is like.”
As usual, Gibault will be tested in the regular season, as the Hawks face a brutal schedule that pits them against powerhouses such as SLUH, Collinsville, Alton Marquette, Quincy Notre Dame, and of course, archrival Columbia.