By GREG MENGELT
Jordan Vejar led the best four-year period in Jeffersonville boys’ soccer history.
During his four years as a starter for the Red Devils, Vejar and his teammates won three sectional championships, a regional title and the first Hoosier Hills Conference crown in school history.
Jeff had 10 seniors in 2012, but it was Vejar who was the engine that drove the team’s success.
“He is a winner,” Jeff coach Carson Webb said. “He wants to win and he doesn’t accept losing. He does everything he can to make sure he’s a winner.”
“Whenever I step out there, I’m not one to ever be scared of an opponent, even if he’s bigger and faster than me,” Vejar said. “I can’t stand to lose. I would rather win the game than try to get stats.”
Vejar finished his career with 54 goals and had 43 assists — 14 and 13, respecitvely, in his senior year. But it’s the wins, not the stats, that he will remember as he moves on.
“The conference championship [in 2011] was really great to win,” he said. “Three sectional championships and a regional — I never could have imagined that. I couldn’t have asked for more in four years. It was all team-related for sure.”
True, Jeff was about team. But it’s hard to imagine the Devils would have been as big of a winner without Vejar.
The center midfielder was Jeff’s second-leading scorer and also was adept at finding open teammates, leading the Red Devils in assists.
Vejar could have succeeded at any position on the field, his coach said.
“He’s a diverse player,” the third-year Jeff coach said. “He can virtually play anywhere on the field. He played defense for his club team, he played forward [as a freshman] and he’s played center-mid for me. He’s played successfully at every position on the field.”
Vejar has never been one to hide his emotions on the field. As he matured over the past couple of years, he turned his temperament into leadership.
In this year’s sectional championship, Vejar came to the defense of a teammate and clashed with Webb. Although Webb didn’t care for Vejar’s outburst, the incident showed that he was the team’s unquestioned leader.
“Essentially, I get to talk to the team three times — before the game, at halftime and after the game,” Webb said. “So they have to have some leadership on the field. Somebody out there has to take control. He does that.”
Vejar’s emotions overflowed following Jeff’s 1-0 regional loss to Evansville North. Vejar was obstructed by an official as North scored the game-winning goal with a minute to play.
Vejar was classy, again showing leadership in refusing to blame the official. More than anything, he said, it was because it was the last game he would play at Jeff that brought the tears.
“Yeah, I’m emotional,” he said. “It’s always more emotional when there are so many guys around me who feel like I do. Those 10 guys hated losing as much as I do. We wouldn’t take losing lightly. It really helps to know there are guys around me who feel as strongly about the success of the team as you do.”
“He’s very emotional,” Webb said. “He’s got tremendous competitive spirit. I like that about him. He can put the game on his shoulders and take it over at times. You need somebody like that.”
Webb and the Red Devils will have the difficult task of trying to replace Vejar — his skills, his leadership and his ability to control games — next season.
Vejar, meanwhile, will have a tough time matching the last four years playing for Jeffersonville soccer.
“It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had,” he said. “Most of the highlights of my life is playing soccer at Jeff.”
NEWS AND TRIBUNE ALL-AREA TEAM
Jordan Vejar, Jeffersonville (Player of the Year)
Brian Fischer, Jeffersonville
Pierce Crawley, Providence
Andrew Wimp, Providence
Leonard Kwitonda, Jeffersonville
Skyler Davis, Jeffersonville
Cody Schrank, Providence
Evan Hollkamp, Providence
Damon Rhodes, Jeffersonville
Dylan Adkins, Floyd Central
Luis Arredondo, Jeffersonville (GK)
John “Tater” Murray, Providence
Bryan Kong, New Albany
Caleb Scarbrough, Silver Creek
Josh Moore, Christian Academy
Varun Alse, Floyd Central
Brent Hesse, Providence
Ronald Karenzi, Rock Creek
Noah Spencer, Silver Creek
Henok Jones, Floyd Central
Cesar Hernandez, Charlestown
Jeff Wiles, Providence (GK)
Brian Castleberry, New Albany (GK); John Osterhoudt, Silver Creek (GK), Jeremiah Wilkinson, Rock Creek (GK); Travis Foster, Floyd Central (GK); Gedeon Nzombi, Rock Creek; Rodrigo Martinez, Charlestown; Will Brown, Rock Creek; Jose Arredondo, Charlestown; Johnny Weirs, Rock Creek.