Kai Robertson and Luke Hardin scored a goal each in Horizon Christian School’s 2-0 win Oct. 5 against Life Christian.
The 2019 team has had to alter its formation and strategy, and players have had to adapt to different and in-game changing roles, with a roster of 12 players in a sport where 11 players are on the field.
The team’s next home game is Monday at 5 p.m. at Horizon Field against Oregon School for the Deaf.
Against Life Christian, the Hawks were missing one player due to illness, meaning that all 11 players played the entire game with no substitute.
“Everyone had to go 80 minutes, and it can definitely be wearing on the body to go the whole game,” coach Andrew Stenberg said of a team that has experienced some illness and injury.
“Some had injuries from before the season and some from this season, but you gotta keep going, you can’t sit out,” he said.
The team is 2-5-1 on the season, and post-season play seems to be out of the picture, according to Stenberg, in his fifth year as coach.
“We’ve had quite a few games where we were close but couldn’t seal the deal, and a lot of that is due to our low numbers,” he said. There are no seniors on the squad, and three freshmen where Stenberg had expected six or seven to sign up this season.
Stenberg, assisted by his wife, Raquel, are teaching the coed squad a variety of things as they go.
“It’s a challenge, but some years are developing years and some years are championships years, so it’s give or take,” he said
Stenberg is instilling “a sense of wanting to respond to the way another team is playing.
“It’s not like basketball where you set up a play and keep running it. You have to adjust on the fly. We’ve had to change up our formation due to different numbers, and that’s been a factor this year with 12 kids.
“We’ve had to take on a more aggressive strategy to try to score more goals,” Stenberg said. “We’ve stacked our forwards a little more. In the past we had more mid-fielders to help out with defense, but we figure with our limited numbers and limited energy we need to score as soon as we could. We continue to try to focus on that.
“It’s definitely a difficult factor to get across quickly to kids who are used to a different formation. But it will help prepare them for next year if we have to flip from one to the other and definitely has been beneficial in having an arsenal of different things to go to in a game.”
As the team approaches its final three games, Stenberg said his message is, “Just work hard all 80 minutes.
“I tell them I know it can be difficult when your body starts to slow down but due to our numbers, we have to instill that in our kids.” (The squad finished a recent game with 10 players but won 12-1.)
The key for this squad is to adapt to versatility. The squad has two kids who can play goal, and in the Life Christian game a mid-fielder had to go to defense, and a forward to mid-field.
“Even if we’re in practice and I’m teaching the defense something, I tell the kids to keep watching — ‘you might have to be defense next, so there’s no need to teach it twice.’”