By Ryan Duffy
The Carmel men’s soccer team is off to a great start so far this season and hopes to continue its success tonight against Noblesville. The game starts at 7 p.m. at Noblesville High School.
Head Coach Shane Schmidt, who has been with the Carmel soccer program for 11 years, said he feels the determination of this year’s team has been great so far. “The work ethic of the team is extremely high. We train every day throughout the week, and our training sessions have been very intense,” Schmidt said.
The team returns 12 varsity letter winners this season, and Schmidt said that having all these returning players will help the team this year. “We have a lot of hard-working and talented players. I feel that having that many letter winners returning to our program raises our confidence and work ethic because they know what it takes to achieve the goals that we have set as a team. It also provides great leadership in training and in games,” he said.
Jared Isenthal, co-captain, midfielder and senior, who has committed to playing soccer at Butler University said he agrees with Schmidt. “This year our team has some real potential. We are coming together really well, and our ability to play as a team is going to make us hard to beat. Winning the state championship is of course our goal for the year, and I absolutely think that we have the team to do it,” Isenthal said.
The team also has a few other “secret weapons.” Recently, the Carmel United U16 Men’s Developmental Academy won the 2008 U.S. Soccer Federation’s National Championship. A few players from that championship team are also wearing this school’s blue and gold this season. Isenthal, who was one of the six Carmel players on the championship team, said, “It was the most excited I’ve ever been. We worked so hard for eight months, and ending with a national championship was the best feeling ever.”
Schmidt said that these players who won the championship haven’t gotten over-confident. “I don’t see nor feel that winning the championship has gone to their heads. It is actually a great motivational tool because they know how much hard work and effort it takes to win a championship at any level. Of course having some guys that played on the national championship team raises your confidence as a coach, but everybody in our program plays at a high level of soccer year round, and our confidence level is the same for everybody across the board,” Schmidt said.
On the contrary, Isenthal said that winning the national championship has boosted his confidence in himself and in his team. “As a player playing against the top players in the nation and being on ESPN for the national final has given me confidence to be relaxed on the field, which allows me to just play the game. As a team it has tremendously helped us because the six of us that were on the team have been playing together so long that we understand each other and how we all play. It makes it a lot easier to have played with these guys before,” Isenthal said.
In order to achieve the final goal of the season, a State title, Schmidt feels that winning the MIC Conference Championship is important. The conference games are what prepare the team for the State tournament. Schmidt said that the team’s schedule this year is going to be tough and therefore will help the team in the long run. “Of course you’d like to win the conference championship every year, and our conference schedule is very tough and definitely prepares us for the State tournament run,” Schmidt said.
The goal for the team this year is just like every other year: a State championship. Both Isenthal and Schmidt feel that feat can be accomplished. “I feel that we have just as good a chance as anybody to win a State championship. As long as we put in the hard work and effort on the training field, we will be there in the end competing for a State championship. As long as we come together as a team, trust in one another and put in the hard work, I feel that the sky is the limit for these guys,” Schmidt said.
A national championship and a State championship would make quite a year for Isenthal.
He said, “Winning nationals has motivated me to win a State championship for CHS. Winning State would make it a perfect year.”