Seymour boys soccer coach Matt Dennis and girls coach Greg Musser were beaming after seeing their 2015 sectional draws.
In both brackets, the only way the Owls see powerhouses Columbus North or East is if they make it to the championship game.
With both teams finding success at the ends of their seasons, the Owls are ready to make a statement in the postseason tournament.
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Facing familiar foes
This season, the Owls boys team has the most wins since Dennis took over the varsity program in 2011.Under Dennis, the Owls have averaged eight wins a season.
The Owls (9-5-1) haven’t eclipsed 10 wins since 2010 under then-coach Will Smith.
On Oct. 5, the Owls will play Scottsburg for the play-in game.
Should they win, the Owls will play Madison on Oct. 7 in the semifinals.
The Owls routed Scottsburg 8-0 on Aug. 27 and edged Madison 2-1 on Sept. 17.
Columbus East (10-4) and North (7-5-3), powerhouses in the area, play in the semifinals on the other side of the bracket.
“I think (the draw) it’s favorable for us,” Dennis said. “Any time that (Columbus) North and East are on the same side of the bracket, it’s good for us. We need to go out and play our game and keep moving on.”
Owls senior goalkeeper Austin Hatfield added, “I couldn’t be happier with the sectional draw. We gave it the nickname the ‘God draw.’ People have jokingly asked us if we had to pay to get that draw. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re very lucky this year.”
The Owls fell to East 4-0 on Aug. 25 and dropped a closely contested 1-0 game to North this past Tuesday.
Since Sept. 1, the Owls have gone 5-3-1 in the heat of the Hoosier Hills Conference play.
Regardless of the final scores in the stretch, the Owls have held tight but not losing by more than one goal in their three losses.
While the Owls don’t have one player that stands head and shoulders above the rest, they’ve found success through total team efforts.
“We’re just a better team this year,” Dennis said. “We’ve had good, great, individual talent here in the past. This year, it’s that saying ‘the whole is the sum of the parts.’ The guys get along well and push each other if someone isn’t doing well. We don’t have egos that are challenging every decision we make. We’ve got 11 guys in the right spots that buy-in to what we want to do.”
From the back to the front, the Owls are led by a core group of seniors.
“Last year, coach (Dennis) came to us and said that even with the three captains we’ll have that he wants us seniors to take control,” Hatfield said. “He sees that our seniors are very cerebral. He wants us to lead at all divisions on the field.”
In the midfield, senior Kyle Jones has led the push for higher-possession in games.
“It’s a really good draw, but I don’t think we should underestimate anything,” Jones said. “We still need to go out there and do our business.
“I feel like we haven’t played our absolute best the past few games, and we need to go out and focus. We need to play with our focus and concentrate on winning.”
Senior Matthew Pyle has led a young group of defenders through his play at right back.
Pyle said that this year’s team is playing smarter with their passing.
“The communication has definitely picked up throughout the field,” Pyle said. “The main focus is winning the sectional title, and we’ll have to go through one of the Columbus teams to do that. It will be an easier road to get to the final, but it still won’t be easy.”
If the Owls make the sectional championship, they know either of the Columbus teams will present a challenge.
Dennis said that his team needs to do a better job of putting away scores in order to get a championship.
“We’re going to have to finish the ball,” Dennis said, “We’ve had a few games where we’ve out-shot our opponents, by a lot, but couldn’t score. When we get in front of the goal, we have to be composed. Secondly, we have to dictate play in the midfield. We can’t allow opposing teams to play their game. We want to force them to play to us.”
The sectional championship game will be Oct. 10.
Girls clicking at right time
Since Sept. 17, the Owls girls team has elevated their play going 3-1-2.Like the boys, the girls got a favorable sectional draw with both Columbus schools on the other side of the bracket. The Owls will play Madison in the semifinals on Oct. 8, with the championship set for Oct. 10. On Monday, the Owls downed the Cubs 5-1.
Owls coach Greg Musser said he feels fortunate with this year’s draw.
“It’s exciting times for Seymour,” Musser said. “Generally, we always draw with one of the Columbus schools. It’s a nice variety this year. It’s also nice we only have one game to get to the finals. It’s exciting to have a change for once. We’re looking for some good things out of our team.”
In the middle of the season, the Owls hit a rough patch going 1-4-1 from Sept. 5 to the 12.
“We had a struggle in the middle of the season where we somewhat lost our identity,” Musser said. “We were trying to use our speed too much, and it’s easy to defend that. We’ve gone back to playing to feet and working the ball side to side. That has lead us to a lot of goal scoring opportunities.”
With their recent stretch of success, the Owls have played more carefree soccer.
“The girls are having fun out there,” Musser said. “We have a tendency at times to tighten up and make the game un-fun. When that happens, we don’t play well. We need to carry that into the sectional push.”
Owls junior Marie Lenart leads the team with 15 goals and Maria Cerda has nine scores this season, but as of late juniors Andrea Ferrer and Katie O’Mara have gotten more shots on goal.
Senior midfielder Elizabeth Davis said the Owls have done a better job of communicating with both the offense and defense through the center third.
“We’re moving up together better,” Davis said. “We’re switching the ball through the back more and working on better possession. It makes it easier to switch fields instead.”
Owls senior defender Louisa Carter has led the defense in a more aggressive pursuit of the ball.
“We’ve been focusing on not dropping far too back,” Carter said. “We want to contain our players and push up.”
With the recent domination over Madison, the Owls (6-7-3) are trying to keep level heads going into their game.
“We’re pretty excited, but don’t want to go into it too confident,” Davis said. “Since we know how Madison plays we should do well against them.”
The Owls haven’t seen Columbus North (4-8-2) this season, and play at Columbus East (6-4-5) today to conclude their regular season.
Earlier in the season, North and East tied 0-0.
“One of the two Columbus schools will likely be in the final,” Musser said. “I think if we come out ready to play we can compete. Our schedule might now show it, but we’ve played with every team this year. There’s been some games we’ve lost where we’ve controlled the play.”