• October 22, 2014

Hornets soccer coach intends to keep developing program

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Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 4:30 am

Van Collins has watched his program grow.

After being developed just five years ago, Gatesville’s boys soccer team has matured under the second-year head coach, reaching the playoffs in each of his seasons with the team.

Despite the progress, the Hornets are still searching for their first-ever postseason victory after falling to defending state champion University 5-1 on Monday in the bi-district round of the Region III-4A playoffs.

After the match, Collins discussed his team’s performance and the future of the program with the Herald’s Clay Whittington.

Obviously, it wasn’t the outcome you wanted, but how did you feel your team played?

We played pretty good. We came in with the gameplan of trying to stop their offense, which is a tall order in itself even if we had more players on the field than them. They are so good. They can find your weaknesses, but we held them there for 10 minutes before their first goal happened.

I was pretty proud of them, especially during the first part because it took University a while to get going. We were actually frustrating them a little bit, which is nice for us to see. Coaches were calling kids to the sideline and telling them what to do. They finally cracked it, and I kind of figured they would, but I was proud of how we really fought to the end. I think we gave up a couple of goals in there that we were a little lazy on, but overall, I can’t complain at all.

They scored two goals in less than 30 seconds in the first half to go up 3-0. That really hurt, didn’t it?

It did. Their second and third goals were back to back, and that was just a bad misplay. It is not really like us to do that, but it is what it is. They put a lot of pressure on us, and they made us make a mistake, so it was a good play by them.

Did the team hang their head at all at that point or did it just roll off them?

I don’t think it rolled off of them, I wouldn’t put it like that, but they never gave up. That is for sure. We talked about that at halftime. We had a goal of not letting them score six, and they didn’t do that. At halftime, we talked about wanting to keep it better than 6-0, and really we kept it 5-0 and then got a nice little goal off Ernesto Hernandez’s foot to just put a little icing on the cake. Even though we lost, we got to go away on a good note. We were still cheering on the side. We were losing 5-1, and we were up off the bench, hooping and hollering.

How big is it to have that positive you can take away from this?

Nobody likes for the season to end, even if it comes against a team you are not suppose to beat. They still don’t want to quit playing soccer. Going into the offseason, at least we can talk about something. We are going in not being shut out by a really good team. Instead, we can say we scored on a really good team. It is a positive. It is a little victory in life.

Playing the defending state champs in the playoffs, is that a good experience for this team to have?

It is a good experience. A team like that can teach you a lot of stuff. We’ve got film, and a good team is going to expose your weaknesses. If you want to know what you need to improve on, go play a good team. That’s what a lot of the good teams in sports across the board do in preseason. They want to go up against the best in the state, so they can fix some weaknesses. We can definitely improve upon some stuff. We can definitely play a little better defense in the midfield, instead of sitting back so much and letting them tee off on the ball.

We can learn a lot from this for sure. We fixed a lot of stuff at halftime and during the game. I was proud of our guys for really noticing the changes they needed to make. I didn’t have to talk about it. They noticed it, they figured it out, they made the adjustment on the field and communicated to one another about that. So, that is a huge victory for us right there moving forward.

What are your thoughts about the team you have coming back next year?

I’m excited. We are definitely going to miss some guys. There is no doubt, we are going to miss some guys. We’ve got some spots to fill – some big spots to fill. But we’ve got some guys coming back that we are excited to have back. If we can keep this going and do what we really should have done this year, to be honest, I think we can go into next year and really make a run at something. Whether it is playoffs, making a run at a district championship or winning the first playoff game in program history. That is one of the big things we want. We don’t just want to make the playoffs now, we want to win. We want to win a district championship. The things we want to do are definitely obtainable next year.

We had three senior starters and a foreign exchange student, so we are going to have four open starting spots, but we also had a couple of big guys coming off the bench for us that play in some key spots. We’ve got around five guys that we really have to replace and make sure we have those spots filled. I’ve got some junior varsity kids that can do that, and some other guys on the team that can do that, so we’re excited about what the future holds for this program. We will see what happens.

What has this class of seniors meant to the program over the year?

It is kind of funny because this senior class, they are not soccer players. They are now, but when they came in as freshmen, most of them hadn’t even touched a round ball in their life. It is impressive to really see the amount of growth this senior class had. They are leaders. This senior class is a bunch of leaders. That is the biggest thing we are going to miss. We will miss them at a few key spots, but it is really their leadership. They way they handle themselves around the team, and the way the team responds. We are going to miss that a lot, but these seniors are a fun group. I really enjoy being around them, and we are definitely going to miss them.

Van Collins has watched his program grow.

After being developed just five years ago, Gatesville’s boys soccer team has matured under the second-year head coach, reaching the playoffs in each of his seasons with the team.

Despite the progress, the Hornets are still searching for their first-ever postseason victory after falling to defending state champion University 5-1 on Monday in the bi-district round of the Region III-4A playoffs.

After the match, Collins discussed his team’s performance and the future of the program with the Herald’s Clay Whittington.

Obviously, it wasn’t the outcome you wanted, but how did you feel your team played?

We played pretty good. We came in with the gameplan of trying to stop their offense, which is a tall order in itself even if we had more players on the field than them. They are so good. They can find your weaknesses, but we held them there for 10 minutes before their first goal happened.

I was pretty proud of them, especially during the first part because it took University a while to get going. We were actually frustrating them a little bit, which is nice for us to see. Coaches were calling kids to the sideline and telling them what to do. They finally cracked it, and I kind of figured they would, but I was proud of how we really fought to the end. I think we gave up a couple of goals in there that we were a little lazy on, but overall, I can’t complain at all.

They scored two goals in less than 30 seconds in the first half to go up 3-0. That really hurt, didn’t it?

It did. Their second and third goals were back to back, and that was just a bad misplay. It is not really like us to do that, but it is what it is. They put a lot of pressure on us, and they made us make a mistake, so it was a good play by them.

Did the team hang their head at all at that point or did it just roll off them?

I don’t think it rolled off of them, I wouldn’t put it like that, but they never gave up. That is for sure. We talked about that at halftime. We had a goal of not letting them score six, and they didn’t do that. At halftime, we talked about wanting to keep it better than 6-0, and really we kept it 5-0 and then got a nice little goal off Ernesto Hernandez’s foot to just put a little icing on the cake. Even though we lost, we got to go away on a good note. We were still cheering on the side. We were losing 5-1, and we were up off the bench, hooping and hollering.

How big is it to have that positive you can take away from this?

Nobody likes for the season to end, even if it comes against a team you are not suppose to beat. They still don’t want to quit playing soccer. Going into the offseason, at least we can talk about something. We are going in not being shut out by a really good team. Instead, we can say we scored on a really good team. It is a positive. It is a little victory in life.

Playing the defending state champs in the playoffs, is that a good experience for this team to have?

It is a good experience. A team like that can teach you a lot of stuff. We’ve got film, and a good team is going to expose your weaknesses. If you want to know what you need to improve on, go play a good team. That’s what a lot of the good teams in sports across the board do in preseason. They want to go up against the best in the state, so they can fix some weaknesses. We can definitely improve upon some stuff. We can definitely play a little better defense in the midfield, instead of sitting back so much and letting them tee off on the ball.

We can learn a lot from this for sure. We fixed a lot of stuff at halftime and during the game. I was proud of our guys for really noticing the changes they needed to make. I didn’t have to talk about it. They noticed it, they figured it out, they made the adjustment on the field and communicated to one another about that. So, that is a huge victory for us right there moving forward.

What are your thoughts about the team you have coming back next year?

I’m excited. We are definitely going to miss some guys. There is no doubt, we are going to miss some guys. We’ve got some spots to fill – some big spots to fill. But we’ve got some guys coming back that we are excited to have back. If we can keep this going and do what we really should have done this year, to be honest, I think we can go into next year and really make a run at something. Whether it is playoffs, making a run at a district championship or winning the first playoff game in program history. That is one of the big things we want. We don’t just want to make the playoffs now, we want to win. We want to win a district championship.  The things we want to do are definitely obtainable next year.

We had three senior starters and a foreign exchange student, so we are going to have four open starting spots, but we also had a couple of big guys coming off the bench for us that play in some key spots. We’ve got around five guys that we really have to replace and make sure we have those spots filled. I’ve got some junior varsity kids that can do that, and some other guys on the team that can do that, so we’re excited about what the future holds for this program. We will see what happens.

What has this class of seniors meant to the program over the year?

 It is kind of funny because this senior class, they are not soccer players. They are now, but when they came in as freshmen, most of them hadn’t even touched a round ball in their life. It is impressive to really see the amount of growth this senior class had. They are leaders. This senior class is a bunch of leaders. That is the biggest thing we are going to miss. We will miss them at a few key spots, but it is really their leadership. They way they handle themselves around the team, and the way the team responds. We are going to miss that a lot, but these seniors are a fun group. I really enjoy being around them, and we are definitely going to miss them.

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