FISHERS – Sometimes, when you have a lot of talent on a team, it can end up being a determent, with everyone trying to take over, stuff the stat sheet and be the star.
That wasn’t a problem with the Zionsville boys soccer team all season long, and is a big reason that they were crowned state champions with a perfect 21-0 record.
“We have grown up together and played soccer our whole lives,” senior Ben Weidner said. “We are all play makers, and even if we have a good opportunity, we may be able to make one extra pass to a player even more open to get the goal. We would get on each other a little bit because we are so selfless in practice, and sometimes you have to be a little selfish, but that’s what made our team special.”
Every person on the team had a role that was instrumental to the Eagles’ success.
And they played that role perfectly, whether it be scoring goals, setting up goals, preventing goals or bringing energy off the bench.
Sixteen different Eagles registered at least one assist this year, with seven of those players have four or more.
That also led to 11 different players scoring goals, with all 11 scoring at least two goals and five scoring five or more. The Eagles allowed just 14 goals, with 11 shutouts on the season.
“We have a good 10-11 guys that are starting, and the guys right behind them are really good too and are valuable,” Zionsville head coach Rob Jordan said. “It was nice to see the intensity stay high and not have a drop off.”
But along with the role acceptance, the big thing that stood out with this team was their unselfishness.
Of the Eagles 64 goals this year, 57 came with assists.
A prime example of it came in the first game of the year.
Weidner, who came into the season as the top returning scorer, had out-run the defense and was in on goal for a 1-v-1 chance with the keeper.
But with the angle and defense closing, he passed it off to Chris Freeman, who put it into a wide open net for a goal.
It was that type of unselfish play that kept the team a close-knit family unit that was focused on one common goal.
“It isn’t just our captains either, who have done incredible job, but it is across the board as a team,” Jordan said. “They have a common goal and desire, and it’s fun that even when we have these bad games, they still find a way to win.”
It helped them immensely when they got to the post-season.
Relatively speaking, the Eagles cruised through the regular season, going 15-0.
They never trailed, and were never tied other than 0-0. But things weren’t as easy in the post-season.
In the sectional championship game, they trailed late, and had to come back to win. In the regional final, they saw a 4-0 lead become 4-3 and had to buckle down and see the game out.
They trailed in both the semi-state and the State Finals, but came back to get the job done.
Why? Because they had instilled the belief that they could do anything as a team.
“We knew if we kept our heads up and played our game, we couldn’t be beat,” Weidner said. “When we have fun playing and play for one another, we get goals. We knew we could do it, we just needed one to go in.”
Freeman said after the game that the seniors knew that this was going to be their last time playing together and representing Zionsville, so that allowed them to give it “120 percent, because we knew there was nothing after this.”
He said the runs the last two years were special not just because of how far the Eagles went, but who they got to experience it with.
“Getting to share this with them, and experience this our senior year is pretty special and unforgettable,” Freeman said.
Jordan said that’s the biggest thing he wanted the team to take away from the season.
Yes, enjoy the 21-0 record that ended in a state title. But also remember what it took to get there, and who you got to share it with.
“The guys have taken it all in stride, and know that you have to enjoy the time, enjoy the game and enjoy your teammates,” Jordan said. “Eventually you have to hang your boots up and its over, and that enjoyment is what you will remember. They have taken that message to heart and enjoy everything that comes with it.”