Cathedral High School Home of the Fighting Irish

Soccer (Boys Varsity)

Mid-Season Review: Boys Soccer

By Tyler McClure | Sep 17, 2023 3:07 PM


This has a very real chance to be a special season. Cathedral High School boys soccer coach Joel Russell said that doesn’t guarantee success. The Irish must work to reach their lofty 2023 goals. But those goals are reachable, and that makes this an exciting time. “We have some pretty high expectations,” Russell said. The Irish, long one of Indiana’s top boys soccer programs, have improved steadily since Russell took over as head coach in 2020. They won sectional titles in 2021 and 2022, then won their first regional title in a decade in 2022. They enter 2023 with a strong mix of youth and experience, having had an influx of talent since last season. A deep run in the postseason is possible. And Russell said that’s the goal. “We like to say, ‘Trust the process,’ and our process is how do we continually get better and better as a program,” Russell said. “We’re trying to take the next step. “We've been blessed by having a pretty diverse group of freshmen through seniors over my years as coach. Now we've got a culmination of really good senior leadership with some really good young players for freshman through juniors. “So, from our perspective, we have our sights pretty high.” The 2023 Irish boys, who started the season 4-3 with early season losses to No. 9 Pike and No. 6 Hamilton Southeastern, were ranked No. 14 in the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association Class 3A poll as of early September. Among team leaders are four senior defensive captains: defender/midfielder Liam Fahey, Adrian Reveles, Emmett Hearn and Belachew Neal. “Our core group of seniors really brings a lot to the table,” Russell said. “All of a sudden you're, ‘Wait a minute, we can play against anybody in the state and go toe to toe.’ I don't know if we're going to beat them. I don't know if they're going to beat us. That just hasn't been the case in the last few years. “It will go back to seeing how we defend. Are we defending the way we need to defend? I'm a firm believer in any sport, goals against is the key driver. “Teams that defend the best are usually in it at the end.” The Irish added significant talent to the core this season, with junior forward Calvin Kurzawa entering the season as what Russell called “one of the best forwards in the state.” Forward Fynn Lahrsen, a transfer from Germany, is a dynamic player who Russell called “one of the best goal-scorers in the state.” Senior Ian Jackson is “exceptional” and an MLS Next player at midfield, with sophomore Quinn Bateman strong in the midfield. Freshman midfielder Michael Bonaccorsi also will play a key role, with Russell calling junior Jett Wallmeier one of the state’s best goalkeepers, and sophomore midfielder Jordan Wedges playing every minute of every game as a freshman. “He's a player I think often gets overlooked,” Russell said of Wedges, adding: “You put all that together and there are a lot of dynamic players and a lot of good continuity among players that can really make a difference this year. I really like the 13, 14 guys we have in the rotation.” The 2023 Irish are a technically sound team with significant offensive weapons, which brings a comparatively new element to a team that often has been defense-oriented in recent seasons. “I pride myself in being a defensive coach and our team working hard collectively – doing your role individually then collectively,” Russell said. “The wrinkle this year is the pieces we've added are pretty dynamic on offense. Now we're trying to juggle how can we still be a disciplined team on defense and yet a dynamic team on offense. This team I think has the ability to do both. “We just have more players capable of producing that moment, little bit of magic outside of the system of play, outside of being good at counteract and restarts and those things. We've just got more guys that could give you that little bit of magic. “This team I really think has an opportunity to win a grinding game, or to win a 5-4 game. This is a dynamic team. It gives us some different things to do tactically. I like how we stack up.” Russel called the expectations and the program’s level entering the 2023 season a continuation of a mentality and culture that has developed over the last several seasons. “[Former Head Coach] Whitey Kapsalis, was always telling kids, ‘Trust the process,’’’ he said. “We just try to raise the standards of our program every year from the varsity level all the way down. But how are we raising the standard? What's the standard of play? What's the effort we require? “I think it has gotten better year over year since I've come in. I take no credit for that, but it's the players that have bought into the process and have just gotten better and better.”

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