Gering Boys’ soccer builds foundation
     2016-04-01      By Frank Marquez    editor@geringcitizen.com
Frank Marquez/Gering Citizen Gering Bulldogs midfielder Josh Parra works the ball past Torrington’s defenseman Zach Posten in the Bulldogs 1-0 victory at Memorial Stadium in Gering last Tuesday night. 
The Gering Boys Soccer team which plays in the B-8 District finished last season with a record of 4-12. Last night, after a defeat of the Torrington (Wyo.) Trail Blazers, 1-0, the Bulldog squad has already amassed half the wins of last year with a 2-3 overall record. So far, their only losses have come against North Platte, Scottsbluff and Holdredge, the latter two being district rivals.

Justin Clark, head coach of the program since spring 2002, grew up in Omaha, where he played at powerhouse Millard South. After completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, he worked as an assistant at Millard South before helping to launch the women’s soccer program at UNL. His arrival in Gering was fortuitous and timely.

Clark’s straightforward goal for the team is “always to compete in every game we play, get better as season progresses, and give ourselves the opportunity to win the district championship, which would qualify the team for sub-state.” Getting to that stage pits the eight highest seeds against the next eight teams.

So far this season, Clark said, “(Gering) still has issues scoring goals. We struggle time to time defensively. (In practice) we need to create situations, where they deal with pressure. It gives them a comfort level; they know how to play.”

This year, the Gering Boys’ Soccer program attracted 35 players overall. But only 19 of them made varsity roster.

“We have a great group of seniors,” Clark said. “With have 13, and many of them have great level of experience. This year, we are leaning on Mitch Martin on defense, Brent Barge at midfield, and Ty Romey at forward. So, we have one in each part of the field to keep things organized.”

As for the future of the program, Clark is looking to junior Ethan Parks, a midfielder who was sidelined last year with an injury to his ACL. “He has come back and has been doing great things.” As a midfielder, Parks serves as the link between the attacking and defensive phases of the game. Clark explained, he’s “like a point guard in basketball. He feeds people the ball setting them up to score. On defense, they want to win it back.”

Another up and comer, junior Dane Jacobs returns as a defender.

To make it into post season this year, Gering will have to get past the Lexington Patriots, who have traditionally been in the playoffs for the past nearly seven years. Gering will also need to keep its eye on Scottsbluff and Holdredge. “Lexington has had good players for years,” Clark said.

“They usually get 60-plus kids a year. Success breeds success. They are technically skilled, and are able to find open players. They are quick as well, and can hold the ball. Scottsbluff is always a tough team no matter what, but we have our share of luck against them. They are well coached, organized, and capitalize on scoring chances. Holdredge is very direct, and can go straight down field. In our first game against them this season, we had a two-goal lead, but they were able to outrun our players, and get into a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.”

Assistant coaches Jesus Duque, who has been by Clark’s side for six years played at Scottsbluff and Western Nebraska Community College, and volunteer Martin Linz, who joined the coaching staff this year, look to get the Bulldogs deep into post-season. “Duque brings an understanding,” Clark said. “With his familiarity of the game, he has a special way of communicating with the kids. Martin, who played goalkeeper at Scottsbluff, is a specialists and so far has been making strides with our goalkeepers.”

Notes: Midfielder Javier Campos lone goal late in the second period was the difference in the victory over Torrington Tuesday night. The Bulldogs also had seven shots on goal by Deion Contreras, Ty Romey, Brent Barge against a very stubborn Trail Blazers team. ... Goalie Cris Bartow had eight saves. Fouls were limited with Campos, Dane Jacobs and Ethan Parks each committing one apiece. ... Overall, Torrington recorded 15 shots with 8 on goal. ... Activities Director Glen Koski reported the game versus Cheyenne Central which was cancelled on March 24 due to weather was rescheduled for April 25.

Gering Schedule

April 2, v. GI NW at N. Platte, 11 a.m.

April 2, v. Lexington at N. Platte, 2:30 p.m.

April 5, at Cheyenne East, 6 p.m.

April 8-9, GNAC at Columbus

April 12, v. Newcastle at home, 6 p.m.

April 16, at GI Central Catholic

April 18, at Scottsbluff (Landers Complex), 5 p.m.

April 25, at Cheyenne Central, 5 p.m.

April 26, at Cheyenne South, 6 p.m.

May 2-3, 5, Districts

May 11, State

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