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This weekend’s season- and program-opener for the men’s soccer team at Elizabethtown Community & Technical College is a lot like a trip to Las Vegas: Good luck winning when the house holds a big edge.
The fledgling Barons originally thought Saturday’s 2 p.m. game against the host St. Catharine College Patriots would be against the school’s junior varsity program. Instead, the homestanding NAIA program chose to make ECTC one of its two allotted scrimmages.
“We just have to go out and see what we can do against them and not let down or anything,” said Barons midfielder Daniel Ruiz, a former John Hardin High School standout.
The change in opponent to SCC’s big boys doesn’t faze Barons assistant coach Angel Hernandez.
“I’m ready, I’m excited and I want to see what these boys can do on the field,” he said. “We’ve been having practices and they’ve been looking fairly good, but I’m real excited to see them finally out on the field.”
For the most part, the Barons are a hodgepodge of recent area high school talent. John Hardin has the most representation on the team in former Bulldog soccer players Ruiz, Alex Fowl, David Gomez, Blake McQuown and Russ Mott, former soccer coach Alex Molina and former track team member Felix Gibbons. Elizabethtown is represented by Kyle Curry, Brendan Franco and Drew Martin, while Central Hardin has Dakota Bowen and Judah Thomas and North Hardin has former soccer player Elisha Woody and former cross country runners Kevin Walker and Joshua Phoutharansy. LaRue County (Darwin Perez) and Grayson County (Russ Uebelacker) have alums on the team, too.
“I think the best part has been getting everyone together from those other schools and forming that bond,” said Ruiz.
The bonding experience has been a bit different for Martin and goalkeeper Andrew Buckles. Martin, a 2007 graduate, is one of the team’s oldest players and didn’t have as much experience playing against or with his new teammates.
“It feels that there’s a lot of pressure on us to step up as leaders and show these young guys what building a program is all about,” said Martin, 23. “I don’t know anybody on this team who I had ever played with before or had even met before. But I had known some of their older brothers.”
Buckles was homeschooled and as such, was barred from playing for – and against – schools such as Central Hardin, Elizabethtown, John Hardin and North Hardin. Luckily Buckles had some past experience in club ball with the Elizabethtown-based Atletico Flames with some of his new teammates.
“It’s been a new experience for me,” said the 18-year-old Buckles. “There are some guys that I’ve heard of or have been around or guys that I knew knew (of), so it’s nice to get to meet new people and see new players.”
In addition to Saturday, the Barons have 10 other games scheduled against nine programs in Asbury University’s reserves (away, Oct. 8), Bellarmine University’s club team (away, Sept. 22; home, Oct. 20), Berea College’s club team (at Eastern Kentucky University, Oct. 13), Campbellsville University’s reserves (away, Sept. 1), EKU’s club team (home, Sept. 30; away, Oct. 13), Kentucky Christian University’s reserves (away, Sept. 28), Lindsey Wilson College’s reserves (away, Oct. 3) and SCC’s reserves (home, Sept. 5; away, Sept. 15).
The Barons have a two-week break after Saturday’s game, but have no more than an eight-day span between games the remainder of the season.
Because they do not have their own on-campus field – that’s in the school’s long-term plans – the Barons have been nomads. They’ve practiced at Nicholas Street and Radcliff’s Dawley Park and the women’s team practiced Wednesday at Central Hardin’s softball field. Both programs have looked at hosting games at Mike Carroll Soccer Complex and the Elizabethtown Sports Park. Unlike Carroll, the Sports Park can offer a press box with higher-quality lights as well as a full-length and full-width synthetic field that hosts fewer games.
Nevertheless, Buckles said the locations have been fairly easy to deal with.
Trying to bond so quickly presents a greater challenge.
“I think the main challenge is getting everyone to come together as one team,” Buckles said. “It’s hard when you have guys from all over trying to come together for one team. That will always pose a challenge at the start, but it’s getting better and we’ll improve. So it’s going to go really well I think. This is something we can build on.”
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BARONS AT A GLANCE
ELIZABETHTOWN—The roster and schedule for the inaugural Elizabethtown Community & Technical College Barons men’s soccer team:
Alex Molina, Head Coach
Angel Hernandez, Assistant Coach
Chris Molina, Assistant Coach
Name, Position(s), High School
Dakota Bowen, GK/ST, Central Hardin
Andrew Buckles, GK, Home School
David “Kyle” Curry, MID, Elizabethtown
Alex Fowl, DEF, John Hardin
Brendan Franco, DEF/ST, Elizabethtown
Felix Gibbons, DEF/MID, John Hardin
David Gomez, F/W, John Hardin
Drew Martin, MID, Elizabethtown
Blake McQuown, MID, John Hardin
Russ Mott, DEF, John Hardin
Darwin Perez, MID, LaRue County
Joshua Phoutharansy, F/MID, North Hardin
Daniel Ruiz, MID, John Hardin
Judah Thomas, MID, Central Hardin
Russell Uebelacker, ST, Grayson County
Kevin Walker, DEF/W, North Hardin
Elisha “Bubba” Woody, MID, North Hardin
Date — Opponent (Type), Time
Saturday, Aug. 18 — At St. Catharine College (Varsity), 2 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 1 — At Campbellsville University (Reserves), 8 a.m.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 7 — ST. CATHARINE COLLEGE (RESERVES), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 15 — At St. Catharine College (Reserves), 3 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 22 — At Bellarmine University (Club), TBA
Friday, Sept. 28 — At Kentucky Christian University (Reserves), 5 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 30 — EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY (CLUB), 6 P.M.
Wednesday, Oct. 3 — At Lindsey Wilson College (Reserves), 8 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 8 — At Asbury University (Reserves), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 13 — At Eastern Kentucky University (Club), TBA
Saturday, Oct. 13 — Vs. Berea College (Club), at Eastern Kentucky University, TBA
SATURDAY, OCT. 20 — BELLARMINE UNIVERSITY (CLUB), 5 P.M.