Berthoud soccer faces uphill battle

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

Berthoud goal keeper Hunter Hursey charges a Northridge opponent to save a goal in the first half of the Sept. 1 game at Berthoud High School. John Gardner / The Surveyor

Berthoud goal keeper Hunter Hursey charges a Northridge opponent to save a goal in the first half of the Sept. 1 game at
Berthoud High School.
John Gardner / The Surveyor

To call the 2014 season a disappointment for the Berthoud High School boys soccer team would be an understatement. The Spartans lost every match they played, finishing the season with a 0-15 overall record that included a 0-12 mark in Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) matches.

And while the 2015 season is not off to the hottest of starts – Berthoud lost 10-2 to Fort Morgan on Aug. 27 and 8-0 to Northridge on Sept. 1 – Head Coach Jason Hughes is excited to watch the growth and development of his very young team over the next couple of months.

Having had posted winning records in his first two seasons as head coach, last year’s transition and this season’s rebuild present new challenges for Hughes that he and his staff embrace.

“As a team, we expect a lot,” Hughes said. “So for me it’s a learning experience to go back to the basics, to build from within and it’s exciting to get to build a program from the beginning again.”

Only five players on the Berthoud’s 2015 varsity roster are upper-classman, two juniors and three seniors, while the other dozen are all sophomores. In addition to lacking significant high school soccer experience, many Berthoud players also lack the club soccer experience that the Spartans’ opponents’ rosters possess.

“A lot of these other teams that come in from the bigger cities have a lot of club players while we don’t necessarily have a lot of higher level club players,” Hughes explained.

Despite the lop-sided final score, the match with Northridge was competitive until late in the second half as the Grizzlies scored four goals in the final 14:36.

“The first 60 minutes, I was really pleased with the way we played, they were right there, they were right in it. There was never a point, even when we were down 4-0, never at one point did we give up during that time,” Hughes said. “Now we have to figure out how we can play that last 20 minutes.”

Berthoud had several opportunities to score only to see shots miss the goal by the narrowest of margins or be saved by the Grizzlies’ goalkeeper. Sophomore Austin Gillies had what appeared to be a certain goal saved by Northridge’s keeper Edgar Lopez at the 21:09 mark in the second half. Lopez made a similarly well-executed deflection that kept the ball out of the net off a well-timed header by Berthoud forward Connor Liebman in the opening minute of the second half.

Berthoud goalkeeper Hunter Hursey, one of the team’s dozen sophomores, is one such player who Hughes said has improved noticeably even very early in the season.

“Hunter has done a great job; his hands have gotten a lot better. Every game he is maturing fast, taking ownership of the goal and starting now to take ownership of the defense and directing them,” Hughes said. “I think he is going to be an outstanding goalie.”

Hughes admits it is not going to be a quick or easy road to get Berthoud back into contention in the TVC, but he believes the team will start to show some of its future potential over the next several games.

“I think by mid-season it’s going to turn around, I really do,” he said. “I think that as long as we don’t get down on ourselves – and that’s my biggest fear with a young team – that’s what the three coaches are working on is how do we keep from getting down but also toughen them up.”

Berthoud (0-2) travels to Mountain View (1-1) for next match on Sept. 3 before returning home to host TVC rival Holy Family (0-1) on Sept. 8.