GREENVILLE – Mark Coppess believes improvement has been made this summer for his Greenville varsity boys soccer team, and he hopes that will help steer the program back to its winning ways.
The team was on the fourth day of its team camp Thursday working with Marcel Matis, who is director of player development for a new soccer club in Cincinnati called the Cincinnati Elite. This is the third year Matis has been at the team camp, according to Coppess, who also is in his third year at Greenville.
“We’ve been working on fundamentals and team building for the style we want to play,” Coppess said. “We’ve had good participation this week. Most everyone has been here except for a few on vacations, but I think we have really progressed from Monday to today. At open fields in the evening we put together what we’ve been working on in the mornings and they have been doing really well.”
A few weeks ago, Coppess took his team to a summer tournament at Wilmington College and it went pretty much as he expected.
“We went 1-2 on the day playing really well at moments, but also we had moments where we struggled and that is typical,” Coppess said. “We have a lot of freshmen and that was the first time a lot of them had done anything yet so it was good learning experience for them and us which helps us figure out where we are at for the Northmont tournament this weekend.
“In the summer, we go from Wilmington which kind of shows us where we are and what we need to work on and what our strengths and weaknesses are,” he continued. “And that brings us into our team camp where we can work on those things and then we take that into Northmont where my expectations mainly will be to see us improve even more. Obviously we want to try and win because that builds confidence, but I think if we can come out 2-2 that will be good. This will be the first time playing an opponent other than themselves since Wilmington, so I just want to see some improvement.”
The Green Wave will play four teams at the Northmont tournament: Yorktown (Ind.), John Glenn, Milton-Union and New Knoxville. Then next week will begin two-a-days.
“It is that time already,” Coppess said. “The summer moves quick but it has been a great week so far.”
The season will begin for Greenville on Tuesday, Aug. 21 with a home game against Stebbins.
“We will be young this year, but also with some experience,” Coppess said of the makeup of this year’s team. “We have six seniors and seven freshmen with a good mix of juniors and sophomores, but these freshmen have played for me for years now in club so they are familiar with the training we do. They know what we expect from them and how we play so they have been able to push the upperclassmen a little which in turn helps the whole program.”
In his first season as head coach, the 2016 Green Wave had their first winning season in more than a decade with an 8-7-3 record that included a home playoff victory against Miamisburg. Last year, the team dropped off with a 1-14-2 mark.
“It was a great first year with a great group of seniors,” Coppess said. “Last year we only had two seniors and we struggled some. This year I think it will be more like the first year. I expect good things this year.
“A couple of the boys have really stepped to take on leadership roles,” he continued. “In the summer our numbers have been really low in the past, but this summer the kids have been to everything we have done if they were not on vacation. The participation is there and they are all buying into the program and seeing improvement in the team and themselves and that makes them want to come back.”
Just like many other high school sports, the opportunities are limited at the collegiate level, so there is more to it that just playing the game.
“We want them to buy into the fact this is about more than the game,” Coppess said. “If you ask them almost all of them want to play soccer in college, but to actually get into college soccer the odds are like 0.08 percent of students in the U.S. that play high school soccer go onto play college soccer, so it is very tough to get in there.
“The scholarships are very limited compared to some other sports,” he continued. “They can only have 16 full scholarships for soccer so they end up dividing them in half to get a full squad. So, it is very tough and we just let them know when they come into our program that it is more than just the sport because most of them will never play again competitively. We are all about teaching them responsibility and being good teammates. If their teammates can depend on them then everything else in life will take care of itself.”