Effingham head soccer coach Weston Peno doesn’t mention wins and losses to his team.
Despite an 11-0 loss to Mattoon Tuesday afternoon, the coach realizes his young group is still learning and trying to build off the little things.
“First half, initially, they held their position,” Peno said. “Today, I was happy they held their position. The wings were where they needed to be. We had a few looks more up top than we normally do. That felt a little bit better. Defensively, we’re still kind of struggling in the middle. We were able to handle some of the other stuff. An early loss to the goalie didn’t help.”
With Peno wanting to grow his team offensively and not dropping nine players back defensively — like they did a few weeks ago against the Green Wave — made them have limited chances, as a result.
“I was looking for playing with a little independence and allowing them to move the ball more,” he said. “They have to be comfortable to being on the other half of the field now. We have to take those steps, and sometimes they’re uncomfortable. As you can see tonight, they’re uncomfortable steps. But they’re necessary ones. If we park the bus and play deep and not let anything happen, sure, it’s to our advantage for them to not have 11 goals, but we also don’t have any looks. We have to find that happy medium.”
Starting goaltender Brandon Duncan left the match early after being kicked in the face, forcing Peno to go to backup goalkeeper Roy Arellano.
Arellano came in and performed the best he could against Mattoon’s offense.
“He’s newer in terms of a goalie,” Peno said. “He’s been working hard. We’re still working on his hands, but his positioning and just being able to move the ball out – he’s got a monster kick.”
Peno said Arellano communicates well with his defense which should benefit the team down the road as it grows together.
The coach also commended senior sweeper Jackson Doedtman for coming back and being a thorn in the Green Wave offense, too.
“Jackson Doedtman, who is my sweeper at this point, was a big proponent of knocking the ball out and stopping a lot of that play,” he said. “Without him, it could’ve been a very scary score.”
From a team perspective, Peno said that he gives his team tasks to complete for building tools.
He added that every game is a learning opportunity.
“We look at it as a winning opportunity,” Peno said. “ I don’t talk to them about that. I give them clear-cut tasks and what they have to accomplish. We don’t worry about the scoreboard because I know it will be difficult against a state-ranked team. If you can complete these against a team, like, Mattoon, then these tasks will look good against teams that aren’t at their level.
“We’ll take a few steps back defensively. We’ll pick our times to push forward and push the field. If I can engrain this now, and get through the bad losses, hopefully, next year, we can get into a rhythm and be competitive again.”
The 0-11 Hearts will host Mt. Zion Thursday.