Head coach of the Southwestern Illinois College men’s soccer program for more than three decades, Larry Petri can count on one hand the number of times he has successfully recruited a player so skilled that he can change the fortunes of a team simply by being on the field.
Petri is hoping Waterloo senior all-state midfielder Kane Osterhage, who led Waterloo to the Class 2A state soccer title in November, is that type of player.
Osterhage, the leading scorer in the metro-east last season, has announced he will join the SWIC men’s soccer program beginning in the ’16 season.
The 6-foot 155-pound Osterhage finished the 2015 season with 83 points on 31 goals and 21 assists for a Bulldogs team that finished 25-3-1. Waterloo put the final touch on a storybook season by beating Peoria Notre Dame 4-3 in the Class 2A state title contest.
Now Petri, who in the past has landed program-changing type players such as Larry Scheller from Belleville East and Jarius Holmes from O’Fallon, is hoping Osterhage can help take the Blue Storm program to the top of the Region 24 standings.
Obviously we’re hoping Kane can come in here and do what he did for the Waterloo program.
SWIC men’s soccer coach Larry Petri
“Obviously, we’re hoping Kane can come in here and do what he did for the Waterloo program,” Petri said. “I mean, here’s a kid who played as a freshman and steadily improved as his career went on to where he lifted that (Waterloo) program to the next level.
“Part of the reason we got him here is that he wasn’t getting the looks he wanted from NCAA Division I schools. I know he probably wants to go to Louisville. I told him that you come in here and do the work that you are supposed to and we’ll see what we can do to get you there. We want to help prepare him for the next level.’’
Osterhage, a four-year letter-winner for Waterloo, finished his high school career with 58 goals and 30 assists.
At SWIC, Osterhage figures to lift a Blue Storm squad that struggled to finish last fall. SWIC was blanked four times, including a 5-0 shellacking to Lewis and Clark College in the Region 24 semifinals. The Blue Storm finished 10-7-1 in 2015 and faces a 2016 season loaded with freshmen.
“It’s a similar situation here (as it) was at Waterloo four years ago. We’re going to be a freshman-dominated team,” Petri said. “I’m not saying that we won’t have some high caliber-type players coming in because I know that we will. But it’s going to be(Osterhage’s) team. His past is proven and like I said, we’re hoping he can come in here and do the same thing he did at Waterloo.
It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to land such a dynamic player such as Kane.
SWIC coach Larry Petri
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to land such a dynamic player such as Kane. I would have to go back to Jarius. I can’t recall anybody since then.”
Petri describes Osterhage as an offensive player “who scores goals.”
“Kane scores goals and he scores goals from the midfield area. That means he is an attacking player and that he has the ability to push and go forward,” Petri said. “Now he’s going to have to do it against bigger, stronger and quicker players than he did at the high-school level.
“He’s going to have to improve and I think he’s the type of kid who will come in and do whatever it takes to do that. I think we’ll also have enough players to put around him that he’ll be successful and we’ll have a successful team.”
Other Blue Storm commitments
Also committing to attend SWIC and be a part of the Blue Storm program will be Osterhage’s Waterloo teammate Chase Rubemeyer, a defedner, along with three players from Belleville West — Drake Terveer, Nate Petrekovich and Brandon Gregory.
Other players committing to the Blue Storm were Austin Rakers (Central), Dakota Earnhart and Zach Parr (Anna-Jonesboro), Sean Miskovic (Oakville, Mo.), Chase Guerrero and Ahmed Selimovic (Mehville, Mo.) and Skylar Bone from Edwardsville. Parr scored 46 goals last season as Anna-Jonesboro placed second in the Class 1A state tournament.
(Note: News-Democrat sportswriter David Wilhelm provided information for this story)