Fans of the Pierre soccer teams might notice a new face on the sidelines when the Pierre soccer teams kick off their 2019 season against Brandon Valley on Friday evening.
That face belongs to Matthew DeBoer, who some might know from his time playing for the South Dakota United U17 team that won the 2013 National Championship. The Aberdeen native is in his first year at the helm of the Govs boys soccer program. He told the Capital Journal on Wednesday afternoon that he thinks this year’s team has improved from last season.
“Last year, they were a young team,” DeBoer said. “This year, all of our young players have experience. They’ve played at the varsity level. Our big change from last year to this year, from when me and Coach Entwisle took over, is the culture. We wanted to change the culture, the attitude, and the mindset of this program. They’ve done that. They’ve bought in to what we’re trying to do. It’s a new era of Pierre Govs soccer, and I think we’ve turned that corner. I think we’re going to do a lot better this year.”
Last year’s Govs soccer team went 2-10-1. They averaged less than one goal a game while giving up about three goals a game. Their two wins came at home against a tough Rapid City Central team that went into the playoff ranked fourth in Class AA, and a Mitchell squad that was the no. 16 seed. The Govs, who were the no. 15 seed, saw their season come to an end after losing 2-0 to Sioux Falls Washington.
The Govs have been practicing for about two weeks. According to DeBoer, the practices have seen mixed results.
“Like any team, there’s good practices and not so good practices,” DeBoer said. “Most of our practices have been really productive. The kids have been working really hard. Just like any team, we have a few practices where we’re just not in it. As a whole, I’d say our practices have been going really well.”
This year’s team has some experience coming back on to it. They’ve have seven seniors on the team this year. One of those seniors, defenseman Clayton Alban, told the Capital Journal that being one of those senior leaders on this team is a good feeling.
“I feel like I have to be on my best behavior,” Alban said. “I get to teach these younger kids what to do, and how to be a leader when they’re older. It’s a good feeling.”
The Govs will face a Brandon Valley team that entered last season’s playoffs as the no. 6 seed before losing to Spearfish 2-1 in the quarterfinals. Last year’s Brandon Valley team averaged around two goals a game, while giving up one goal per game. They defeated the Govs 2-0 in Pierre last year. Alban said he thinks this year might be different.
“We know that Brandon Valley is a good experienced team,” Alban said. “We’re confident that this year we can put up a different outcome than last year.”
As for DeBoer, he feels as good as any coach can feel going into a season opener.
“First games are tough, because you’re still trying to get into it,” DeBoer said. “Until you finally get your first test against another team, you never really know where you’re at for sure. That being said, I like my team.”
The Govs’ game against Brandon Valley will kick off at 4 p.m. CT in Brandon.