Moving forward

Ali Schuchmann, Sports Writer

Dr. Jill Murray, a famous social advocate and personal blogger on her website, once said “The comeback is always stronger than the setback.” As this year’s soccer season begins, the Xavier Boys Soccer Team, who are former class 2A State Champions, are ready to start their journey to claim another title. However, this time, it is a little different with the absence of their head coach and the graduation of many key seniors. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Amir has taken a step down from his position as head coach this year to take time to recover from a double hip surgery. Last season, the team had a remarkable record of 15 wins and 5 losses. On top of that, they had three 2021 First Team All State selections, including Team Captain Ren Schroud (X21), junior Carson Jeffery (X22) and junior Trysten Vasquez (X22). Senior Team Captain Conner Lenss is confident that through the leadership of the senior captains, the transition to a new coach will be seamless. “Coach Amir being absent due to hip surgery was a big shock to us 4 captains who have played under him since freshman year. We were all a little worried but we talked amongst ourselves and are ready to step up and show leadership and lead our team this year,” Lenss said. The boys soccer assistant coach, Coach Sho Takaoka, will take over while the former head coach will move to the assistant coach position. “It means more than just taking over a successful program to me, because the former Head Coach Amir Hadzic has been my mentor for so many years. I played against Xavier led by him in high school, he recruited me to play for him at Mount Mercy University, and he gave me an opportunity to start coaching next to him at MMU and Xavier. I understand that it is very big shoes to fill and there’s a high expectation for this program, and I believe that Amir has prepared me well for this time to come and I am more than excited to get it started!” Takaoka said. With the COVID-19 pandemic taking away the seniors’ sophomore year season and a tough loss their freshman year against Lewis Central, the team was more motivated than ever to be State Champions during their Junior year season. Now that they have a taste of what being champions feels like, they are not done. They know the loss of seniors will be very impactful but they are ready to rebuild and reload. “Our goal for this year is to go back to back state champions. This year will definitely be tougher with the loss of lots of key pieces from last year, but we have a good group of guys that can do great things so I am excited to see what we accomplish,” Lenss said. “Completing our goal junior season was an amazing feeling, but now we want more, we want what was stolen from us freshman and sophomore year. We want it and we will get it.” The Saints have been working hard in the off season to ensure they have a successful season. They are excited for the upcoming season and would love for everyone to come support them. Their first game of the season is Saturday, April 9 at Xavier High School against Marion.