By SCOTT JACKSON Courier sports writer
---- — OTTUMWA — Hosting your own tournament, no matter what time of year it is, never proves to be an easy endeavor.
What was supposed to be a busy ‘kickoff’ weekend of both the men’s and women’s soccer programs of Indian Hills Community College got much less hectic when the William Penn JV and Century College women’s teams had to call off the plans to travel this weekend to Ottumwa for the IHCC ‘Kickoff’ Tournament. That left only the Warrior men’s soccer team left to open its season while the women’s team will have to wait two more weeks.
But sometimes, according to IHCC men’s and women’s coach Doug Siegle, seemingly bad news can have a very positive outcome.
“Our women’s team is fairly thin and we’ve been battling some injuries ourselves, so to get a couple extra weeks to heal up actually works out fairly well for them,” Siegle said.
Meanwhile, the soccer weekend will continue on with three men’s matches set to be played over the next three days on the Indian Hills Soccer Field. It will mean that, on Saturday, no IHCC team will actually be in action as the Warriors play in the opening day and final day of the tournament facing Century at 4:30 p.m. this afternoon to open the 2013 men’s soccer season before facing Wentworth Academy at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
But while Century and Wentworth will have the IHCC pitch to themselves on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff, the afternoon will also feature a chance for the youth of Ottumwa to get acclimated to the sport of soccer. The Ottumwa Youth Soccer Association will be holding signups for the upcoming season while the Warriors practice, put on skill demonstrations and even sign autographs for the soccer stars of tomorrow from 1-3 p.m.
“It’s a nice way to kind of tie in area youth soccer with our program,” Siegle said. “We’re going to try and go out do some coaching this season with the youth soccer teams. We want to be involved as much as we can.
“There are not as many parents around here that have been involved with soccer. It helps to have some grown men and women that are involved helping them learn the sport.”
Youth is a word that has always been associated with the IHCC soccer program, which is one of the youngest programs for the school. As such, the Warriors have continued to battle uphill trying to establish a foothold in a region that features great programs like Iowa Western, Marshalltown and Iowa Central.
“I think you’re looking at some of the best teams in the country playing in our conference,” Siegle said. “We’ve kind of narrowed the gap on the men’s side, but it’s a great gap to make up on the women’s side.”
Once again this season, Indian Hills will have to battle some of the best teams in the country with one of the younger teams in the region. The Warrior women return six players from a 2-17-2 squad while the men return just four players from last year’s team that rallied with four wins in its final six games before dropping a disappointing 5-3 postseason opener to Dakota County (Minnesota) in the Warriors first-ever home playoff game, capping a 6-11-4 campaign.
“It’s tough to handle the academic standards sometimes. We’ve lost a handful of players from last year just because of the direction we’re trying to go as a program,” Siegle said. “The bottom line is the depth is going to be an issue. Our starting 11 is always good, but as the season wears along and a few injuries occur, our bench begins to struggle.”
The Indian Hills men hope to put on a good show in front of the fans, facing an NJCAA Division III Century squad from the suburban St. Paul, Minn., area. The Wood Ducks will also be opening its season on Friday in Ottumwa as will the Red Dragons of Wentworth Military from Lexington, Mo.
“The two points of this weekend are to let everyone know that we’ve got good soccer to watch out here and the other is get our guys some confidence going into conference play,” Siegle said. “I think we’re excited to get out there and kick the ball against another team other than our own. We need to take those positive steps as a program as we go forward. That’s what we need to do starting this weekend.”
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