Men’s soccer finding early victories

At the Hi-Line deadline, the men’s soccer team was 2-0 and have only let one goal in from Waverly last Saturday.

Among the reasons for the early streak of victory for this young team are returning returning starters Ben Kippes, Harrison Hall, Oskar Brocka and the only junior Luke Loughren as well as the guidance of coach Spencer Steffy. Steffy has coached the boys for 11 years, playing at Cedar Falls himself, and then going on to compete in UNI’s club team for another four years.

“I really enjoy the team side of coaching and seeing a group come together to achieve or exceed expectations. I also love the players and watching them mature/grow or learn important lessons as they go through their soccer careers. Winning is fun too, but the players make it awesome. I’ve always taken some pride in the players and their achievements in school, other sports and activities are important too.  What they take from playing soccer and do with themselves after high school are ultimately the most important to me.  Aside from soccer, I hope they take some small things from being a part of the program and do successful things with their lives when they move on.”

The strong team has really been living in the moment, however, and working on the little things, day to day. In Steffy’ eyes, the goals are simple.

“This season we are very young and really our only goal for this season is to work hard and improve every day. We have not discussed tangent goals besides getting better daily. If we do that, the rest of the season will take care of itself. Last year we graduated a lot of seniors, and we currently start two freshmen, three juniors and six sophomores. I really enjoy this group because they are committed to the overall effort and want to improve each day.”

One of those three juniors, Kippes, shares some background in his career and his thoughts on the sport.

“I think my love of soccer comes from the complex thinking that goes on with your movement, passes and plays. I also really appreciate the nonstop play style that goes on. In my opinion, soccer requires the highest level of thinking compared to all other sports. It makes the game all the more intense,” Kippes said. This left back has earned his spot, as he has played most of his life.

“Most of our team has been playing club soccer together for the majority of our lives with a few that haven’t. I’m one of those who have played for a long time. Most played together with Cedar Valley Soccer Association; however, Harrison, Oskar and I have played for Cedar River Soccer Association out of Cedar Rapids.”

With his experience, Kippes shared his own personal goals for the rest of the season.

“I don’t possess a ton of long term goals in soccer, but every year I strive to improve on the little details of my skills. Always improving if possible. If possible, I’d love to play soccer in college, but being realistic, I’ll probably just go to college for my academics, but this year we are an incredibly young team mostly comprised of sophomores. It’ll be interesting and exciting to see how we perform against older teams.”

This team isn’t just a group of players, however. Both Kippes and Steffy can recognize that the team is tightly bound on multiple levels.

“I think we have a really special team this year because of all the history we have together. We’ve played with each other on the same field for years, and now we’re really bonding over team spirit. Most of us are really close too; there are a lot of good friend connections on the team. Practices are always fun, but on a serious level as well.”

With hope and evidence of success, the boys should be making big strides this season, as they are already beating last year’s stats.

The team faced arch rival Waterloo West on Thursday night, after the Hi-Line deadline, and it will face three teams at Linn Mar on Saturday, April 8.

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