Craig soccer dresses for the occasion
JANESVILLE--The Janesville Craig boys soccer team means business.
First-year head coach Mike Hook and players who weren’t dressed for Tuesday’s season-opening match donned dress shirts and ties on the bench as the Cougars work to establish their identity.
They took their first step in doing so by kicking off the year with an 11-2 victory over Cudahy/St. Francis.
“I think (the business attire) is all part of raising the standard and raising the reputation,” Hook said. “You look at yourself the way other people see you. And if you hold yourself to a certain standard, more often than not, people will start to hold you to that.
“We want people to know that we’re serious about our sport, and we care about it and we care what people think about us.”
Tuesday’s opener showed plenty of seriousness.
Senior midfielder Drew Whittaker scored two first-half goals and assisted on two others. Junior midfielder Ian O’Donnell scored twice and added one assist. And junior forward Ian Reinicke scored twice as Craig jumped out to an 8-1 halftime lead and never looked back.
“We’re taking steps forward,” Hook said. “The first thing we started out with was a way to play—an identity.”
Hook was Craig’s junior varsity coach last year. He said the Cougars will look to take advantage of their passing skills and their technique away from the ball.
“It says 11 goals (on the scoreboard), but that doesn’t mean we took 30 shots,” Hook said. “We reduced the amount of chances, but we had better chances.”
Senior Dan Swales, who has plenty of varsity experience, is a team captain and scored a goal on Tuesday night.
Senior Troy Lipker will aid Swales on the back line.
“Both of those two guys in the center of our defense lead from the back,” Hook said.
The Cougars will rely on Whittaker to dictate the tempo at midfield.
“The scoresheet tonight reflects that we’ve got a lot of good players,” Hook said. “And I think the collective—the way they play together—is way more effective than the individual guys. They showed that today.”
Seven different players scored in the season-opener.
At keeper, junior Austyn Meier and sophomore David Diaz are expected to share time early on. Each had three saves on Tuesday.
The Cougars’ goal will be to win at least one postseason game and advance to the WIAA regional finals.
First things first, Craig will travel to crosstown rival Parker for the first of two meetings with the Vikings at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night.
CRAIG 11, CUDAHY/ST. FRANCIS 2
Cudahy/St. Francis 1 1—2
Janesville Craig 8 3—11
JC—Ian O’Donnell (Tyler Elliott); JC—Drew Whittaker (Peyton Wunn); JC—Whittaker; JC—Ethan Eno (Whittaker); JC—Noel Ceballos (Wunn); JC—Ian Reinicke (O’Donnell); JC—Brady March (Wunn); JC—Dan Swales (Whittaker).
JC—Elliott; JC—O’Donnell (Jose Fernando Reyes); JC—Reinicke.
Saves—Cudahy/St. Francis 10; Austyn Meier (JC) 3; David Diaz (JC) 3.