Southwestern Illinois College men’s soccer coach Larry Petri has a strong belief that a good defense is the key to building and maintaining a successful program.
Now the Blue Storm’s longtime coach is trying to get his team to believe it — the hard way.
Although still a respectable 4-4-1 on the season, SWIC has struggled on both ends of the field in recent games and enters its contest on Wednesday at Lincoln Land College with four losses in its last five outings.
“I guess you would call it a wake-up call. We’ve had some players who normally wouldn’t see a lot of playing time who have played a little more recently,’’ Petri said. “We’ve got a lot of sophomores on this team and its just very frustrating to have players who should know better who keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
“We’ve got a good team and we’ve got a lot of talent. But we’ve also got some players who are trying to do much and in some cases more then what they’re capable of doing. That has to change and its my job to help us turn this around.’’
The Blue Storm, which broke a four-game losing streak on Sunday with a 1-0 win over the Rockhurst University junior-varsity, had been outscored 17-4 during that skid.
And while the defense hasn’t been good, SWIC’s offense has been anemic.
“We were playing Parkland here a couple weeks ago and while we should have won the game, all we could manage was a 1-1 tie. It’s been downhill since then,’’ Petri said.
“We’re getting opportunities. The other night against Lincoln (College) I know we had at least five good scoring chances. What did we do? I bet we were inches wide a couple of times, we hit the goal post once or twice and we hit the cross bar. Instead of being up 3-0 or 4-0, its scoreless and they get three in the second half and beat us 3-0.
“That’s just the way it’s been going.’’
Soccer women struggling
After falling just short of a trip to the NJCAA Division I Tournament a year ago, much was expected from the Blue Storm’s women’s soccer team this season under coach Juergen Huettner.
But a rugged early season schedule coupled with many new faces in the lineup have had SWIC in an early season slump with a disappointing 2-3 start.
“Last season when I took over the SWIC (coaching) job, there was a good group of sophomore already here and there were the six girls who transferred in when I cam over from St. Louis (Community) College. They had all played soccer with and against each other,’’ Huettner said. “This year we’ve got two players who playd a lot last year in Meredith (Wendt) and Alyssa Houck. The rest of them came from different high schools and colleges and its just taken a while to get used to each other.
“Also we lost our entire defense (to graduation) and we’re still looking for the right combinations. A year ago, we gave up a total of 12 goals in 20 games. We’ve given up 18 goals in five games this year. We’re just making too many mistakes and giving our opponents to many good scoring chances. And three of our opponents — Eastern Florida, Johnson County and Lewis and Clark — have outscored us 17-2.’’
Eastern Florida — ranked second in the N JCAA Division I poll — bounced SWIC 6-1 in its season opener.
“It was our first game and they had already played a couple of games, but I don’t think that mattered,’’ Huettner said. :They had players who competed on national teams from Spain and Great Britain. They were a very talented team.’’
SWIC has been impressive in its two wins. The Blue Storm defeated Polk (Fla.) College 4-1 then last week, SWIC blanked the Missouri Valley College junior-varsity 7-0. Highly-touted freshman Mikalya McCarthy scored a hat trick (three goals) in the win over Missouri Baptist.
SWIC will play its ‘15 regular season home opener on Saturday when it hosts Northeast Oklahoma beginning at 4 p.m.
Volleyball team bounces back
After falling from the ranks of the undefeated with consecutive losses to Mineral Area College and Great Rivers Athletic Conference foe Kaskaskia last week, the Southwestern Illinois College women’s volleyball team rebounded with thre wins this past weekend.
After a tough 25-23, 22-25, 25-13, 26-24 win at Missouri Baptist, the Blue Storm rolled past both Wentworth Military Academy and St. Louis Community College in three games and will take a 9-2 mark into its home match with national power and GRAC foe Lake Land College on Wednesday beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.