One season removed from winning yet another district championship — the program’s fourth in five seasons — Notre Dame boys soccer is determined to add yet another and possibly return to state this season.
It will be a difficult task to say the least as the Bulldogs graduated their all-time leading scorer in forward Will Dodson as well as some other talented seniors like fellow forward Cole Bruenderman and defender Michael Huston.
“That’s the exciting part of coaching high school sports is that every year you have a new group of seniors that come in and you want to step up and be those leaders and inspire others,” Bulldogs head coach Matt Vollink said. “This group of seniors has that potential to do those things for sure, so I’m very excited about the season.”
Coach Vollink said now with scorers like Dodson and Bruenderman graduated that his team’s dynamic will certainly change.
Notre Dame returns a majority of its players on defense from last season, which was a unit that recorded 12 shutouts and didn’t allow a single goal in the Class 3 District 1 Tournament.
Coming back for the Bulldogs back line are senior defenders Charlie West, Will Thurston and Evan Pfieffer, while senior goalkeeper Steven Southard will continue defending the net for Notre Dame.
“[Having four seniors on defense] takes a little bit of that pressure off not only the team but also us coaches,” Vollink noted. “They have a lot of faith and trust in each other because they’ve already played together for a while and are on the same page. It makes things much more comfortable and confident for everybody.”
As far as attacking goes, Coach Vollink will look for senior Bryce Sides to step up as one of his top scorers this fall.
Outside of Sides, Notre Dame hopes to have a big season from offensively is Connor Adams, who Vollink describes as a work horse. John Stovall is another younger player like Adams that Coach Vollink feels will have an instant impact.
Even though West is primarily a defender for the Bulldogs, he may also come up and play an attacking role during certain situations.
“They all work hard in practice, and the seniors have been good leaders for us in practice,” Vollink said. “We want everybody to work hard, and we see a lot of potential in them — that’s what you get excited about as a coach.
“They’re great players on the field, but they’re also great people off the field. The first week of practice was a lot of fun — a lot of laughing and hard work.”