It’s been a trying early part of the season for the Sumner High boys soccer team.
A rash of injuries to start the season — not to mention the move up in classification to a very tough league — have helped drop the Spartans to sixth place, an unfamiliar place over the past few seasons.
“We’re just starting to get healthy and get our guys back,” Sumner coach Peter Voiles said. “We’ve been playing guys out of place since the first game.”
More specifically, since the first half of the 2-0 win over Toppenish on March 20, when the Spartans’ entire midfield line ended up dropping due to injuries.
It was not how Sumner wanted to start the season.
“Losing our midfield was tough since guys had to move up,” defenseman/midfielder Jordan Butler said. “The team has worked hard, but it’s hard getting into a rhythm if you don’t play there regularly.”
Ever since that opening win, Sumner has struggled to a 1-3 league record and is 2-4 overall.
But there’s good news for Sumner as players are getting healthy, starting with playmaking midfielder Jonah Phillips.
“It was hard being away, not able to help my team,” Phillips said. “It’s my senior year and I want to help as much as I can … it’s awesome being back, and I want to stay on the field as much as I can.”
With Phillips’ return, the Spartans should get more stability in their line, allowing Sumner to be much more aggressive than it has been over the first two weeks of the season.
“We’ve had to go away from our style of play with our midfield line out,” Voiles said. “We’ve been much more conservative than I’d like … with a guy like Jonah back, he should give us a boost in our attack.”
That’s good news as Phillips works well at finding his forwards on the pitch. That should allow forward Drew Wehmer to attack opposing goals instead of sitting back to help his teammates.
Even with the adjustments this season, Wehmer won’t complain about his evolving role.
“It is difficult playing back, but our team is well rounded,” Wehmer said. “Everyone can play out of position … it gives me confidence knowing that people can play all over, even though some guys aren’t at their preferred positions.”
As health returns to the Sumner locker room, it won’t be surprising if the winning ways return as well.
Sam’s the man in goal
It must be something about Sumner’s soccer programs in deploying a two-goalie system. For the boys team, it always starts with Sam Jacobsen between the posts.
“Sam’s our main guy, and the other goalies know it,” Voiles said. “Max (Mahaffey) has a lot of potential, and Kyle Moffitt is a really good No. 3 keeper … those guys know this is Sam’s team.”
To start the season, Voiles has used a two-goalie system with Jacobsen starting the first half of games while sophomore Max Mahaffey starts the second half.
The idea is to get the most out of each player’s unique skillsets. When it matters most come crunch time, this will be Jacobsen’s team.
“He is our leader at goal … he’s earned that respect from his work ethic,” Voiles said. “This is Sam’s team.”