By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Two known facts entering the season debut for the Munford Cougar Soccer team Thursday night was the cold weather and the opponent Southwind Jaguars.
But Munford Head Coach Dylan Burnett had a few questions he was looking to get answered on the soggy Munford Stadium field. With a roster featuring 17 of his 23 players being either freshmen or sophomores, Burnett wanted to see how his new-look Cougars would respond to game action.
By the end of the night, Burnett had some answers with his squad finishing deadlock with the Jaguars 0-0.
“Obviously we wanted to win,” Burnett said. “Both teams had opportunities. They hit crossbar. We hit the post. I was telling the guys it was very back and forth. There wasn’t much middle third of the field possession.
“Either the defensive third or attacking third for both teams, it was very back and forth,” he added. “Which isn’t what I want out of my guys. With us being very young, everything that we built off of last year, I’m having to restart. I’m having to go back over with a lot of things. It’s part of the process.”
Last year the championship-level Cougars featured several seniors and a couple of talented underclassmen. Those seniors graduated and Burnett had a couple of transfers.
“We’re starting from scratch,” he noted. “We only have three returning starters and one was gone tonight, Connor my senior.”
Along with Connor Nicks, the other two Munford seniors in 2017 are Danny Roach and Parker Delph. The Cougars have four juniors including goalie Dakota Perrigo. With the game going scoreless, Perrigo played a huge role with athletic saves.
Munford had its share of shots on goal during the contest. Meanwhile Southwind took advantage of the big passes over the middle of the field leading to shot opportunities.
Perrigo made a number of saves including one late in the second half that stood out to Burnett.
“There was about 10 minutes left and they got a shot off,” he recalled. “I had the perfect view. It was going bottom left. I didn’t even know where the heck Dakota came from. I just saw him flying in. The guy has really, really stepped up to be a leader.”
Burnett wants to see more growth toward leadership in his younger players like Cameron Williams and Logan Beidl as the season progresses.
“We need to keep our composure a little bit more,” the Coach said. “Some of my younger players let there emotions get the best of them. That’s from being young. They’re freshmen. They’re talented young boys but they’re going to learn to keep their emotions under control while playing the game hard, keep fighting.”
On the field Burnett wants to see maturity as well before May rolls around.
“We have to learn to connect some passes,” he said. “We were one-dimensional kind of like Southwind. It was back and forth. That’s not what we’re going to be at the end of the season.
“Come our last game or district tournament time and you’re talking to me,” Burnett concluded, “I won’t be saying we’re one dimensional or predictable. We should have these young boys getting the experience and work in at practice learning who to play out of the back.”