EL DORADO — Union Mine High’s varsity boys soccer team kicked off Sierra Valley Conference action Thursday evening at home, hosting Cosumnes Oaks but falling 5-0 to its guests to open league play.
For the Diamondbacks, the loss was a hard pill to swallow but it also indicated progression for the young, inexperienced program that is attempting to rebuild.
“The best way we’re going to win this game,” Union Mine coach Jason Bourdett said before the match, “is to play great defense. We’ve got a strong backfield, and we’ll need to look for our opponent to make a few mistakes and give us a chance for a breakaway goal.”
Despite the implications a 5-0 loss may connote to fans, the D’back defense owned up to its reputation as being tough. Keeper and captain Nick Boring dove, slid and leapt his way to 16 saves — a match high and remarkable in comparison to Cosumnes Oaks’ 20-plus shots throughout the match.
The Wolfpack scored two goals in the first half of play, capitalizing on several miscommunications in Union Mine’s mid and backfields, while adding three in the second half.
Seniors Emerson Herrmann, Daniel Saich and A.J. Hillenbrand led the defensive efforts in support of Boring, and put up stout opposition to Wolfpack advances, but communication in the midfield posed problems for Union Mine, and the lack of counter-attacks made life hectic in the box for Boring.
The hosts struggled to wrangle the right to dictate the match from Cosumnes Oaks which has been undefeated thus far this preseason and season.
Given the varied range of experience on the roster this year, coach Bourdett and his staff are focusing on rebuilding the program from the ground up — first giving new players an opportunity to get a feel for the speed and caliber of varsity-level soccer, while ensuring that the junior varsity players showing promise still have the opportunity to grow into their uniforms before being called up to the next level.
“Right now, I’m not trying to tell our players exactly what to do within every single situation that comes up,” Bourdett said. “We just make sure to go through their positions together, and make sure everyone understands their roles out there, and from there we allow our players to discover how to utilize their strengths on the field.
“It will be hard the first part of the season, but we are already seeing them communicate better and mesh better as a team, and I expect us to keep pulling together and continue to make these improvements as individuals and as a team.”
Union Mine seeks to even their conference record with a game against River City Tuesday in Raider country.