Success played little factor in how teams were treated by COVID-19 this spring. One of the area’s most successful programs has long been the Washington Hatchet boys soccer team. For the last two years No. 4 WHS posted a regional loss to No. 2 Memorial, while in the previous year, the No. 2 Hatchets fell to Cardinal Ritter in the final seconds at semi-state.
However, the toughest opponent of all might have been the virus that ended all activity for the last four months. But come Monday, one of the most potent athletic programs in southwestern Indiana will be back in action and hopefully ready for the season opener against Bloomington South on Aug. 18.
“It affected us because we lost the month of June, but really other than some weight lifting and a little indoor soccer, we didn’t miss much in the spring. We had a group of kids who were working out on their own as well,” said WHS coach Evan Stoll. “We did have some kids who missed out on travel soccer, but we will be ready to go.
“That first phase is pretty limited. I think we may just take those first couple of sessions and just let the kids play, while trying to assess where they are. That is normally what we do in June, so it will be like trying to condense what we do in June into just a couple of two-hour sessions during Phase 1.”
He added that the Phase 2 starting in mid-July will start to look a lot more like normal and Stoll will be getting some assistance from the coaches at USI.
“We have a good relationship with Mat Santoro of USI and he will be helping to run a training camp. We normally go down there, but this year they will be coming up here. Along with that, at the end of July, we hope to have some scrimmages if we can get them approved,” said Stoll.
Stoll added that this fall will bring plenty of changes, however most will come from having 13 players graduate off a sectional winning team and having a change in conference.
“You won’t hear names like Hill, Davis and Niehaus, but there will be plenty of new names and faces,” he added. “I think we will see a lot of good things out of Friday Htoo and Marvin Perez-Ramos. Marvin has been texting me wanting to know ‘When can we get started?’”
There will be other changes coming from the move in conferences from the Big 8 to the PAC.
“Some of the things we are going to do will just be a way to deal with the longer distances and travel. On Sept. 5 we will travel to play South Spencer and Tell City on the same day, so we won’t have to make two trips down there. We will be doing that instead of going to Hoosier Cup on Labor Day weekend. We will also face Mount Vernon and North Posey on a Saturday in September as well,” added Stoll.
“We really wanted to keep the rivalry with Jasper going so we are going to be doing a pair of boy/girl varsity and JV doubleheaders on Sept. 21 and 22. The two JV teams will play on Monday night, followed by both varsity teams the next night. We should have some really good crowds.
“Our schedule will look different, but both Heritage Hills and Gibson Southern will push us in the conference. We know every year that we have a team that can compete for a state title and in spite of everything that has happened, we will be ready.”