Despite achieving more positive results last season, the Fort Dodge boys soccer team is determined to become an even more consistent force on the pitch this spring.
A year ago, the Dodgers notched a 6-9-1 overall mark, improving their wins total by five over the 2012 campaign.
"As with our two prior seasons, our goal is to do better than the previous year," said FDSH head coach Pablo Rodriguez, who also serves as an assistant for the Iowa Central men's soccer program. "Each season, we work to improve on our skills and both our physical and mental strength on the field. Both our JV and varsity players showed an immense amount of dedication and commitment to the team last year.
Messenger photo by Josh Meyer
Returning letterwinners for the Fort Dodge boys soccer team are, front row, left to right: Andres Cardona, Sean Finucan, Alex Jackson, Jhonatan Merida-Barrios and Troy Brandt. Back:?Spencer Barber, Parker Huebsch, Ethan Schwendemann, Austin Read and Jim Springer.
"Their work ethic was second to no team in the state, and for that I'm very proud."
Senior Parker Huebsch and juniors Austin Read and Ethan Schwendemann will serve as the three Dodger captains. Huebsch started 12 games for Fort Dodge in 2013. Read collected three goals in 15 outings as a sophomore, while Schwendemann registered 180 saves and three shutouts in 16 appearances at keeper.
"We have several great leaders on our team," Rodriguez said. "Our three official captains, though, are the guys that have shown the most dedication not only through the season but also in the offseason."
Senior - Parker Huebsch.
Juniors - Spencer Barber, Aaron Brandt, Sean Finucan, Tanner Howell, Alex Jackson, Jhonatan Merida-Barrios, Austin Read, Ethan Schwendemann, Jim Springer.
Sophomores - Austin Dencklau.
Freshmen - Cole Allison, Connor Allison, Dakota Jaeschke, Brady Read, AJ Ruge.
(Start times 7 p.m. unless noted)
April 8 - Humboldt; 11 - at Carroll; 12 - at Des Moines Roosevelt, 10 a.m.; 14 - Des Moines North, 7:30 p.m.; 15 - at West Des Moines Dowling, 5 p.m.; 19 - at Waterloo West, TBA; 21 - at Des Moines Roosevelt, 4:45 p.m.; 25 - Spencer; 29 - Waukee.
May 2 - Marshalltown; 3 - at Waverly-Shell Rock, 9 a.m.; 6 - at Ankeny; 8 - at Mason City, 4:45 p.m.; 13 - Johnston; 16 - at Ames.
Other regulars back for the Dodgers are juniors Jim Springer, Spencer Barber, Sean Finucan and Alex Jackson. That quartet combined for 11 scores last season.
Jackson and Read were both named to the all-CIC Northern Division top squad a year ago, while Huebsch and Scwhendemann each landed on the second team.
"Starting the season strong is important with any sport, and soccer is no different," said Rodriguez. "We have a very difficult schedule, but one that I feel we can do well in. We need to keep getting better as the season rolls on, so we are well prepared when facing tough teams like Waukee or Johnston in substate games."
Newcomers Cole Allison, Connor Allison, Dakota Jaeschke, Brady Read and AJ Ruge could all make an impact at various points as well.
"These guys have played with us during the summer, and they have been involved with soccer throughout their young lives," Rodriguez said of the five freshmen.
Rodriguez has thoroughly enjoyed his first two years at the helm.
"My experience here has been nothing but positive, which has a lot to do with the great backing that we receive from the booster club and (athletic and activities director) Matt Elsbecker," said Rodriguez. "The parents have been very supportive, and everyone has made me feel welcomed."
Joe Jackson - Alex's dad - will assist Rodriguez this spring.
"Coach Jackson is someone the players know and respect," Rodriguez said. "He will make a great addition to the high school team."
Fort Dodge welcomes Humboldt on April 8 for its 2014 debut.