In his second varsity season, senior Austin Roden emerged as one of the leading scorers for the Harker Heights boys soccer team. Roden has already left his mark on the Heights football program.
He holds the school record for longest field goal. Under first-year head coach Ryan Flanigan, Roden aims to continue contributing to the Knights soccer program.
To do that, he will be chasing his brother, Ethan Roden, a four-year varsity player who tied the school record for goals in a game (4) in his final season last year.
What’s it like having (girls coach Jared) Cruddas here and he’s not your coach anymore?
It’s pretty cool. We see each other all the time in the hallway and we have little, small conversations about soccer. I really like having coach Flanigan here as well. They’re both great coaches.
How has this season been with Coach Flanigan leading the way?
It’s been great. He came in, he knows a lot about the game, he’s got a lot of experience under his belt and he’s teaching us a lot of good stuff. He keeps us motivated.
How would you describe your game as a striker?
I’m usually bigger than most of the other players, so I just try to keep a big body on them. Most of the time, they just play the ball in to me when I’m close to the goal and then I’ll just get a small layoff.
Are there any players you try to emulate?
Not really. Well, my brother (Ethan, class of 2013). He was here before me and he wore the same number I’m wearing now.
Was he a football kicker also?
He was. He was also pretty popular as well.
Is all of this coincidence or have you always kind of followed him?
He’s always been such an inspiration to me. He’s my big brother and I love him to death, so I’m always trying to follow in his footsteps.
Was last year the first time you guys got to play together?
He was on varsity all four years, so I only got to play with him last year. It was a great experience. It was a lot of fun.
What was your career long field goal?
Forty-seven yards. I set the school record.
Is there more to it than just having a big leg?
A lot of people don’t realize, but there’s a lot going into form. You’ve got to have good contact and you’ve got to make sure your accuracy is on — you’ve always got to be aiming correctly. You’ve got to account for a lot of wind, drag and stuff like that. But it kind of came naturally to me with soccer.
Did playing soccer help at all in field goal kicking?
It helped a lot. Transitioning from the ball on the ground to the ball on the tee wasn’t too much of a change, so it made it pretty easy.
So, what are your goals for this season?
Well, my friend Austin Russell had two hat tricks last season, so this year I’ve got to beat that. And this year, I want to put points on the board, and I want to at least get to the second round of the playoffs if not further.
Do you feel like you’re on your way? I saw you had two goals last night.
Yes sir. Well, that was in the first half before I got injured. I was hoping for more.