Sizzling start: Jimmies 4-0, but likely to get betterFew soccer teams, particularly northern-tier NAIA ones, would be able to survive four games without their best player. The Jimmies, however, have not only survived under that scenario, but thrived.
By: By Dave Selvig, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Few soccer teams, particularly northern-tier NAIA ones, would be able to survive four games without their best player.
The Jimmies, however, have not only survived under that scenario, but thrived.
“There’s definitely the potential for our team to be pretty successful. … But that being said, I honestly don’t believe we’ve scratched the surface of what we can be,” JC head coach Phillip Bohn said. “We’re still making a lot of mistakes. I don’t sense that the boys are satisfied or content with being 4-0. I think they realize we have a long ways to go.”
The Jimmies’ next game is Friday at 5 p.m. at Rotary Field against South Dakota Mines, which is in its first season as a varsity program.
Also encouraging in the early results is that Bohn believed the early schedule was “challenging.” And to roll through it unbeaten, especially without the services of the skilled O’Connor points to the team’s well-balanced roster.
“I don’t know if this is the most talented team we’ve had, that will have to play itself out. I do believe this is the most depth we’ve had and that speaks to how we’ve played so far despite not having a player of Dominic’s caliber,” Bohn said.
The Jimmies had a lot of prominent players returning off last year’s 11-win club, which advanced to postseason play for the first time.
The back row of Matt Balshaw, Jonathan Jacobs, Ben Eastwell and Jack Hartley started together for much of last season. Mix in the solid and steady play of keeper Thomas Cooke, who played a lot last year, and it’s not surprising how stingy they’ve been.
“There’s a lot of continuity with those guys and they’re also good players. When you combine that you expect to have success in that area,” Bohn said. “Cooke (i.e. Cookie) has done well in goal. He’s made some big saves and covered up a few mistakes.”
“That’s something we haven’t really had. Ellis has a knack for finding the back of the net,” Bohn said of the offensive pressure provided from the midfield. “We’re still trying to figure out where he fits best position-wise, but he’s been a solid contributor.”
Five other Jimmies have scored. Balshaw, another returning all-conference player, is a threat when he makes his way up the field.
Also proving to be a load for everybody so far, as he was last season as a freshman, is Jade Johnson. The former West Fargo standout looks like he could be playing outside linebacker for the JC football team at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, but he also possess great technical skill.
“Jade has really been a matchup problem for teams,” Bohn said. “He’s improved a lot from last season. … He’s big, very athletic and his ability to move with the ball and cut with pace, makes him a very dangerous player.”
Johnson’s North Dakota roots also play into another of the team’s unique traits — its geographical diversity. The roster includes several international players, but also has plenty of local flavor with the likes of Johnson, former Blue Jay Ross Perleberg, Bismarck’s Jace Nybo and Austin Dillard, another former Packer product.
“It’s kind of neat having a culturally diverse team because the game is played differently everywhere and they all bring something unique to the team. Not just in terms of how they play, but their personal backgrounds and then coming to Jamestown to form this team and interact with each other, it’s a been a fun dynamic to watch,” Bohn said. “Despite those differences, I think we’re building chemistry of having guys on the same page, pulling for each other and working to have a successful season.
“If we continue down that path, which I hope we will, it will make for an enjoyable and interesting season.”