By GREG MENGELT
FLOYDS KNOBS —
On Oct. 2, the big Jeffersonville-Floyd Central boys’ soccer showdown turned into a massacre.
With bragging rights and a potential Hoosier Hills Conference title on the line, Jeff scored at will and blew the Highlanders off the field, 9-2.
To those outside of the Floyd Central locker room, it appeared the Highlanders’ hopes for their first sectional title in six years also had gone away.
There was no way Floyd could make up a seven-goal difference, right?
One problem. The key in the Floyd Central defensive cog was missing on Oct. 2.
Floyd senior Varun Alse returned healthy and to the field for the Oct. 12 Class 2A Floyd Central Sectional final rematch with the Red Devils and was all the difference the Highlanders needed.
Led by Alse, the Highlanders’ defense this time shut down Jeff and earned a 1-0 overtime victory and their first sectional crown since 2007.
Alse’s presence made an eight-goal difference. Alse’s difference-making ability makes him the 2013 News and Tribune Area Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year.
“Without V, we lost 9-2. We missed his communication and direction in all facets of the game,” first-year Floyd head coach Tim Rice said. “When he did play against Jeff, we won 1-0 and probably based on how we controlled the match, [it] should’ve been more like 3-0. Even though he wasn’t close to 100 percent when he came back, him playing gave everyone so much more confidence during our tournament run.”
“You could tell from the [9-2 loss] that [my absence] did have an impact,” Alse said. “I think it was more about bringing the team together. You could tell when I wasn’t out there, there was a lack of communication. I was prepared to take the leadership for the team and help us get through it.”
Alse earned the Player of the Year honor without scoring a single goal in 2013. Area coaches understood that there is more than one way to impact a soccer match.
“Yeah, I didn’t score a goal, even though I was hoping to score,” Alse said. “It shows that you don’t have to be a goal scorer or be the best offensive player to contribute to success. As long as you have the right mental attitude, you can accomplish anything. You can help the team without having to score goals.”
As a four-year varsity player, Alse had only known the heartbreak of sectional soccer. As a freshman, his team was favored and was upset in penalty kicks by New Albany — a team the Highlanders had beaten 4-0 earlier in the year. As a sophomore, his Highlanders dropped another one-goal decision to the Bulldogs in the opening round of the sectional. A year ago, Alse and the Highlanders were knocked out by Jeffersonville, 3-0.
All sectional championships are special. Alse said they take on even more meaning after suffering such heartbreak.
“I can’t describe how much it meant to me,” he said. “[The earlier losses] helped me realize the importance of it. As the years went on, winning a sectional meant more and more. Especially being a senior, no one wants to lose and go home. Nobody wants to lose as a senior.”
But did the Highlanders really believe they were capable of pulling off an eight-goal turnaround, even with Alse back in the lineup?
“If we didn’t believe we would win the game, there was no point in going on the field,” he said. “We knew that as soon as it was time for the sectional, we were ready. The feeling was all year that this was the year we will triumph in the end.”
When informed that he was the Player of the Year, his response was, “This is a surprise. That’s awesome.”
Rice said Alse’s selection — over teammates and runners-up Zach Lewis and Henok Jones — shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s seen him play.
“He embodies what a MVP should be,” Rice said. “Fortunately, our players were able to witness his leadership firsthand and I’m hopeful V’s example gives them an example to emulate in years to come.”
Alse would like to continue his soccer career in college. However, if that doesn’t materialize, he will enter Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business.
Whether it’s on the field, in the classroom or in life, Alse has proven to be the embodiment of leadership.
“Without leadership, I don’t believe much can get accomplished,” he said. “If we have all talent in world, but if no communication and trust, it’s impossible to have a successful team.”
NEWS AND TRIBUNE ALL-AREA BOYS’ SOCCER TEAM
Varun Alse, Floyd Central, Sr. (Player of the Year)
Alex Duckworth, Jeffersonville, Jr.
Evan Hollkamp, Providence, Sr.
Brent Hesse, Providence, Sr.
Henok Jones, Floyd Central, Jr.
Leonard Kwitonda, Jeffersonville, Sr.
Minho Lee, Christian Academy, Sr.
Zach Lewis, Floyd Central, Sr.
Logan Rauck, Providence, Jr.
Isaiah Salazar, Jeffersonville, Jr.
Luis Arrendondo, Jeffersonville, Sr. (GK)
Austin Ali, Jeffersonville, Sr.
Roman Arvizu, Providence, Jr.
Logan Howland, Floyd Central, Jr.
Ben Mann, Jeffersonville, Sr.
Erick Martinez, Jeffersonville, Sr.
Rodrigo Martinez, Charlestown, Sr.
Tyler Menne, Floyd Central, Jr.
Gedeon Nzombi, Rock Creek, Jr.
Damon Rhodes, Jeffersonville, Sr.
Caleb Scarbrough, Silver Creek, Sr.
Matthew Walston, New Albany, Sr.
Ryan Castleberry, New Albany, (GK)
Honorable mention: Jose Arrendondo, Charlestown, So.; Will Brown, Rock Creek, Jr.; Travis Foster, Floyd Central, Sr. (GK); Ronald Karenzi, Rock Creek, Jr.; Bryan Kong, New Albany, Sr.; Michael Navetta, Charlestown, Jr.; Jeff Wiles, Providence, Sr. (GK); Jeremiah Wilkinson, Rock Creek, Sr.
2013 Boys’ Soccer Coach of the Year: Brandon Rogers, Providence.