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Maconaquah boys' soccer looking to break through

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

A strong start for Maconaquah slipped away the longer the boys’ soccer season went on in 2016.

Holding a 5-3 record in the middle of the year, a 1-5 finish, including four TRC losses and back-to-back defeats to Peru, dampened what had been a strong year for the Braves.

With the bulk of its senior class back from last season, Maconaquah will look to finally push itself over the .500 mark and insert itself into the TRC discussion.

The Braves will do so under new management as Wisdom Ifeanyi takes over the team.

Ifeanyi is not new to the conference and was one of the reasons behind Manchester’s TRC title last year.

“I was at Manchester Community Schools as a coach, working with Manchester head coach Dave McKee,” Ifeanyi said. “Dave was the one that introduced me to high school soccer.

“When the job came open at Maconaquah, Dave showed it to me and said he would like me to try it out. He saw that I was more than an assistant.

“I planned out the training sessions for the team,” Ifeanyi added. “Working with Dave was very nice and he knew I would do well, doing more here than over there.”

Ifeanyi explained that his style of training was one that would work the players on multiple aspects of the game

“Our training involves work on the physical, tactical and fitness elements of soccer all in one session,” Ifeanyi noted. “It is something I have used wherever I have been coaching soccer.

“All three blend in so the players do not notice, so that is what we use. We try to create scenarios of where the players will be so they can see what they will be doing in a match.”

Maconaquah will be led by a large group of upperclassmen, including seniors Edson Lopez, Alex Davis, Bryce Klutz, Ethan Larason, Luke Edgington, Michael Cook and Steven Lopez.

The Braves have two returning juniors in Mason Cowan and Isaac Judson along with sophomores Jose Bojorquez-Batista, Hunter Klutz, Omar Gonzalez and Seth Sparks.

Newcomers to the squad include junior Lance Leonard, sophomore Colton Byrum and freshmen Austin Staub, Richie Leary, Alex Smith, Trent Burns and Bryant Teegardin.

Early practices have shown Ifeanyi that there was plenty of work to do and finding a formation to play would be a challenge, though the coach said there was a lot of talent to work with.

“That is a very big question,” Ifeanyi pointed out when asked about the team’s formation. “When I first came here, I met some of the players and they were a bit rusty.

“To options to get the players to play in a certain way, based on their talent and what I see in them, is to try to adapt to them. Adaptation is a big thing for me and this team.

“Every player with the ball, at a certain time, I am impressed with,” Ifeanyi added. “Guys like Ethan, Alex and Edison have been outstanding and everyone had been working very hard.”

With the team adapting to a new formation and new way of working, Ifeanyi said the squadwas young compared to others in the TRC but added the group would be tough to beat.

“As a team, we are learning how to fly,” Ifeanyi said. “Manchester were the champions, back-to-back, North Miami is very good and this team is a young horse.

“We will do our best and be a tiny rock in their shoes.”

Maconaquah will move with Peru into Class 2A this year after the IHSAA added a third soccer class, moving into the same sectional as the Tigers alongside Manchester, Tippecanoe Valley, Columbia City and Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran.

With as many changes as the team had to work on, Ifeanyi said the group had the right mindset early in the season and was eager to see what the squadcould grow into by the end of the year.

“We have an objective which is to take things match by match,” Ifeanyi said. “We cannot say, right now, that we’re going to win the conference but, by the end of the year, we will be a thorn in the side of teams.”

“We are building a team and in training session, we are having them play from box to box, from touchline to touchline.

Ball retention is a big thing for this team.

“Our objective is to make Maconaquah the best team it can be and for its image to improve.”