On Friday, the Chanute Blue Comets and Independence Bulldogs kicked off their soccer season in Independence. After a scoreless first half, the Bulldogs won the affair 3-0, with goals from senior Dominique Mendoza and sophomores Jase Mavers and Gerald Mattes.
“We changed a lot of things at halftime. You know, Drayton [Cleaver]’s a good goalie, he comes out, he’s very dominant,” Independence’s head coach Max Bradbury said, “So, instead of playing through the middle, we started attacking the wing and instead of sitting in the air because Drayton steals it, we played it across the ground because, like I said, he’s a dominating goalie.”
The Comets started off the game already missing junior starting midfielder Stark Wright, due to a concussion, and had to temporarily sub out junior goalkeeper Cleaver due to a yellow card in the fourth minute. Around the 20-minute mark, junior Trey Smoot took a ball to the head and was subbed out not too long after. Xander Weilert left the game injured with six minutes left in the half. Neither Weilert or Smoot returned to the game.
The game started off hot with both teams, trading possession. Both teams came close, but neither would score.They ended the first half with a 0-0 tie. In the second, the gates were opened. It started with Mavers’s goal in the 48th minute. The game held at 1-0 until the 63rd minute, when Mendoza scored with Mattes putting one in four minutes later. Throughout the contest Chanute had opportunities on offense but could never capitalize.
“Honestly, we start out really well, we defend well, we play well as a team, but the problem is once we get on the other side to attack the field, we just kind of get lost,” Chanute’s acting head coach Michael Villarreal said, “You know, it’s something we haven’t really worked on as much as we’d like, but definitely a nice thing to seem pretty obvious to work on in subsequent practices.”
The Blue Comet injury bug did not stop in the second half with seniors Jacob Guernsey and Lawson Collins coming out with cramps. Then towards the end of the game, junior Walker Becknell left the game.
Despite all of the injuries, the Blue Comets played good team ball. The varsity squad lost a plethora of quality players last year and this team has big shoes to fill.
“Not to say anything bad about our previous players, we’ve had two fantastic teams. The teamwork I saw right out of the gate in this game is something I haven’t seen in a long time,” Villarreal said, “We weren’t too dependent on any one player and we had a lot of guys that had little to no varsity experience. Threw them right into the game and they performed really well. You could tell many of the kids worked together in the summertime and in the practices to begin the year. They just played very well together. It was like a symphony and brought tears to my eyes.”