By Darren Lum
Published Sept. 25 2018
When the Red Hawks varsity boys’ soccer team’s captain Daniel Rivard ran screaming and shaking his fists in joyous celebration high-fiving teammates on his way to the midfield after scoring on the Fenelon Falls Falcons net with a low blast it was plain to see his enthusiasm for the moment.
However what the Falcons’ players didn’t know was that Rivard’s celebration was for more than a goal to take the lead early in a home opener or even the first goal of the season. It was the first goal for a team that had been unable to attract enough players to field a team for the past two years for the Kawartha High School Soccer League.
Coach Rob Gervais understood his captain’s joy and the work he put into getting the team to its first game.
“Daniel Rivard in Grade 9 was on the varsity team and this was the next time he has played in Grade 12” he said. “He’s the guy that got everybody together.”
Gervais was happy for his captain and enjoyed his own return to the sidelines.
His captain’s enthusiasm extended to the rest of the game and helped the team.
“He did a wonderful job. He’s very vocal. He’s one of our captains. He’s very vocal and the things he was saying were the right things: So let’s continue to attack this. I got it. I got that lane” he said.
Rivard’s goal was worthy of a celebration based on how he was able to weave and deke his way past three defenders until he was alone with the keeper just inside the box where he struck a low shot evading the Falcons keeper.
The Falcons struck for an equalizer off a broken play very early in the second. The sequence leading up to the tying goal wasn’t anything threatening. The Hawks remained composed despite the tie.
Rivard added another in the second half to put the Hawks up by one again 2-1.
After a few Falcons’ scoring chances were turned away by Hawks defensive corps led by middle backfielder Zayden Crete the Hawks put the game away with two more goals. The insurance marker came from Codie Wilkinson and the last goal came from sub-in Ethan Somerville scoring from the attacking midfield position with seconds left.
During the post game speech by Gervais he told them there is still room for improvement.
Decision making is going to be a work in progress and will improve with game time – knowing when to pass and when to maintain possession whether to move into scoring position and strike or not.
He pointed out defensive issues whether it was the lack of marking or giving too much space in the defensive zone. These issues were also lacking for the Falcons which was an area exploited by the home side for scoring chances. Gervais said several of these chances could have been capitalized on if shots were on target.
This first game was a great opportunity for his team.
The opportunity for a strong result was there for the taking.
“It was nice to play a team very much like us young. They only had 11 guys. They didn’t have one to sub on” he said. “That certainly helped us and they had no Grade 12s.”
The Falcons are a varsity team like the Hawks and have a roster of Grade 9s and 10s who are young and inexperienced.
“We took advantage of our chances and I think we were more aggressive than they were. That certainly helps” he said.
It’s worth noting that first-year (Grade 10) midfielder Alex Little has brought solid athleticism and skills to an important area of the field.
“He’s a runner. I love to have that in the middle of the field. He needs to work on maintaining control of the ball but he’s going to be a fantastic player” he said referring to the Grade 10 student.
With two years away from playing Gervais wanted to get as many of his players involved and having fun as possible.
“We had two years where we have had no soccer here. A lot of kids are playing it for the first time so I just wanted to get as many kids out here and get them involved in the game” he said.
There will only be three students graduating so the soccer program’s future is bright.
He expects 14 returning players
“We’ll have a year under our belts and a little more experience. Hopefully the program builds from there” he said