After a humbling 7-1 loss to Chesterton in the state title game last year, the Castle boys soccer vowed redemption. And the Knights took the all important first step this past weekend.
"We teach the team concept," says Castle boys soccer head coach Mike Reiter.
"I just put it on our team," says Castle senior midfielder Jackson Mitchell. "They're all hard-working,"
The Castle boys soccer team continued it's push back to the Indiana State Championship game this past Saturday. The Knights took a hard-fought 4-3 decision from their bitterest rival, Memorial to hoist up the sectional trophy. It was a victory that, despite Jackson Mitchell scoring all four goals, demonstrated head coach Mike Reiter's team philosophy.
"We actually had two key, very key starters out," says Reiter. "And the next guy stepped in and did their job, and that doesn't happen if we don't have everyone buy in. We're carrying a huge group this year, and they all bought into the process. They all bought into their role. Some of them don't necessarily like it, because they don't play many minutes, but this the result right here. There's moments during the season where things are looking bleak for some guys, but it all comes to fruition when they come together like this. I'm extremely proud of them. We had a lot of young guys on the field and they stepped up and played well."
"All the players around me help me do what I do out there on the field," says Mitchell. "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be able to do any of this. I just want to thank them. It's all them."
Back to Mitchell, the senior forward is once again setting the pace for the Knights, leading the team with 18 goals and 56 points, both eye-popping stats. However, the only number he's concerned with is the one in the win column.
"Jackson Mitchell is very special," says Reiter. "He scores big goals in big moments. It's his competitve spirit. We have a ping pong table in our locker room and nobody beats him. He doesn't lose. When he steps on the field, when he steps on the basketball court, when he steps anywhere, he doesn't lose. He gets to a level that other guys just don't get to. When we needed that fourth goal, he went and got it. He's a very talented player. Smart player. But he absolutely hates to lose. He'd rather be drug off this field than lose. And that's the X Factor for Jackson."
"I hate losing and having that two goal difference is big," says Mitchell. "One goal is always tough. They're always coming down. Always putting pressure on our defense, so having that two goal lead gives us a little cushion, and that helped a lot."
Now it's onto tomorrow night's regionals, and a chance to move one step closer to a return to the state's ultimate game. To do that the Knights will have to go on the road and beat a 13-3 and 1 Columbus East squad that they're very familiar with.
"I know their coach pretty well," says Reiter. "We go to the same team camp with them every summer. They have a very good attacking player, who broke their school record this year. They're going to be very organized. They're going to be athletic."
"Columbus East is always one of the top teams in the state and it's going to be a battle," says Mitchell.