By Reed Jaworski
On Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, the Jamesville-DeWitt High School Boys Varsity Soccer team squared off with Cortland High School in what seemed like a normal match. However, the 6-0 shut out by the J-D Red Rams led J-D Varsity Soccer Head Coach Joe Roach to his 400th career win.
“No different, not at all,” said Coach Roach about the approach to the game. Midfielder Charlie Digristina said Coach Roach told them to treat the game like any other, taking “every game one at a time.” In the practices preceeding the game, coach Roach told the players about key persons to mark on Cortland, as well as reminding them that they were capable of winning that game. “He always assures us of how good we are,” said midfielder Dean Kousmanidis.
It was Coach Roach’s gameplan and design, combined with the players’ athleticism, that ultimately led to their success in this game. Junior Austin Dieroff, the Goalkeeper, said that Roach’s game plan included marking their best striker with a second defender. The result of which was a lackluster performance from the prolific Cortland goal scorer. Even with the game going J-D’s way, Coach Roach still continued to coach the players to their win.
“During halftime he gave us direction and advice to help keep the game in our control,” said senior captain Tyler Lichtenstein. Coach Roach’s constant guidance, paired with his realistic and calm demeanor gave the J-D Red Rams what they needed to secure the 6-0 victory over Cortland. Number 400 was in the books.
Following the standard end-game protocol, Lichtenstein let the emotions run loose by dumping ice water on the newly accoladed Coach Roach. “Being a part of a milestone like 400 wins is something I’ll remember for a long time,” said Lichtenstein. Like Lichtenstein, many players added that the pride from that victory is a feeling they all wanted to hold on to.
“He’s one of the most dedicated coaches to his job that I know of,” said midfielder Carson LaRussa. Many players agreed with Larussa, like Kousmanidis, who said that Coach Roach is “more deserving of such a milestone,” than most other coaches.
But Coach Roach doesn’t see the accomplishment in the same light as his players. “I just feel glad that I stuck with it as long as I did, and I think that’s harder than winning 400 games,” said Coach Roach. Coach Roach elaborated, telling about how much the program has changed since the beginning, coming from seasons without qualifying for sectionals, to now having teams making deep runs in the same tournament.
“He strives to make all of his players the best,” said Digristina. Although it may seem that the program has given Coach Roach a name, the players claim that the J-DHS soccer program would be nothing without Coach Roach. “He’s brought massive change to the program, and is the reason where we are today as a soccer team,” said Lichtenstein. Dieroff elaborated more on Coach Roach’s importance to the program, saying Coach Roach’s constant “commitment to excellence” has shaped the program the most.
As much as the players enjoy reliving that prideful moment, they are not caught in the past; instead they are preparing for the rest of the season. All of the players shared a single goal for the season: sectional champs. Last season, the J-DHS Red Rams were left with a bitter taste in their mouths after the they were defeated by Christian Brothers Academy in an overtime thriller in the sectional final.
The soccer team sees some things leading them to their sectional title this year, like the reformation of their section. This season, both CBA and Fowler High School are out of J-DHS’s league. Also, Coach Roach’s coaching expertise is expected by the players to play a vital role in the team’s sectional run. Coach Roach is “a very knowledgeable coach, and we trust every decision he makes,” said Digristina.
Coach Roach’s 400 wins gave the soccer team a refined sense of confidence, and trust in their coach, to do what is best for his players. “I know we have the potential to get there, it’s just a matter of time,” said Lichtenstein.