Bruins Using Big Week to Turnaround Season
September 18, 2012By Rob Zoeller of Ballard High School
There’s no arguing that the Ballard Boys Soccer Team has had a rough first half of the 2012 season. From injuries and roster defections, to a difficult schedule and nail-biting close defeats; the Bruins have had a challenging time this August and September. But after a tough week consisting of a series of three games in three days alongside a weekend showcase, the Bruins appear to be on the rise, and just in time.
Ballard started off the season with high expectations from outside. A pre-season #6 ranking from the state’s coaches put some weight on the Bruins’ shoulders. That weight was made even heavier with the loss of two key returners, senior leaders Cam Vine and Travis Volk.
Vine, a 2011 second-team All-State selection who led the team in assists the past two years, tore his ACL at State Cup in May, an injury that takes 6-8 months to recover from. Volk, a senior defender, broke his collarbone in a pre-season scrimmage. Volk and Coach Rob Zoeller are hopeful he can return in late September or early October in time for the District, Region, and State tournament.
As if losing two seniors wasn’t enough the Bruins had arguably the toughest schedule in the state in front of them. The Bruins went 1-7-1 in the first three weeks of the season including losses to #1 St. Xavier, #11 South Oldham, #12 Covington Scott, #18 Eastern, #20 Oldham County, #22 Highlands, and #23 Bethlehem (rankings at the time). Four of those seven losses to ranked opponents were also by a single goal.
After all those setbacks and near-misses, the Bruins faced their toughest week to date last week, with three games in three days as well as a two game weekend trip. In the first game of the week the Bruins defeated #23 Christian Academy of Louisville 3-2 in double overtime on a golden goal from senior Ben Hoertz. Ballard shook off a lethargic first half against an improved J-town squad with four second half goals in a dominating 4-0 win. In the final of the three game stretch the Bruins took a 2-0 lead into the half against #24 Atherton. Unfortunately the Rebels were able to find two goals of their own in the second half, including the equalizer with a minute left, leading to a 2-2 draw.
Ballard spent the weekend in Owensboro at the Henderson County Colonel Classic. With a shorthanded roster the Bruins fell to Evansville Memorial (3-0) and #13 Henderson County (5-2). The Bruins were without senior captain and co-leading scorer Ben Ahmetagic as well as his brother, freshman starter Kemal Ahmetagic. Despite the setbacks on the weekend, Ballard gained significant confidence last week. They were finally able to get over the hump against ranked opponents and thanks to the victory over CAL sit poised to take the number one seed for the district tournament.
The Bruins will take all this confidence into their biggest game of the season to date on Tuesday. Kentucky Country Day visits Pat Crawford Stadium in a district showdown, with the winner taking the top seed for the post-season. KCD is 10-1-1 on the season and currently ranked #17 in the state. It’ll take a big effort from the Bruins to overcome the Bearcats, but if this past week has shown anything, Ballard is as ready as ever to pull off the upset and continue their progress.