BOBCATS EYEING PLAYOFFS
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
The Freeman Academy soccer team may have dropped a home game to Vermillion 6-0 Tuesday evening, Sept. 27, but in the larger scheme of things that really doesn’t matter.
Because it looks like the Bobcats are going to the playoffs.
With the regular season set to end next week, Freeman Academy — which includes players from Freeman Public, Marion and Parker — will most likely finish sixth among 11 teams in the Class A division, which would give the Bobcats the final spot in the state tournament field.
Head coach Scott Dent expects Freeman Academy will travel to St. Thomas More to face the No. 3 Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs Tuesday, Oct. 4.
“For a team that hasn’t had a winning season in five seasons, I’ll take that,” said Dent, who is in his second season as the Bobcats’ head coach. “Last year we won two games and the year before that we didn’t even have a varsity schedule, so that’s a pretty quick turnaround.
“I give credit to the kids; they’ve worked really hard,” he continued. “It’s pretty exciting.”
The Bobcats stand at 6-3, with two of those losses coming to a high-powered Vermillion team that is sitting second behind Sioux Falls Christian in the Class A standings; the other came to James Valley Christian.
But Dent notes that his team won the games it was supposed to win, which has put the Bobcats in the position they’re in and set the program up for more growth in the years to come.
“There’s a lot of young talent on our team and I’m super proud of the team for believing that we could win the games we needed to and play the way we have to get where we’re at,” he said. “We’re gaining respect from other coaches in the league, and that’s what you want to see — that your program is worth playing.”
Dent also appreciates the diverse culture within the team, represented largely by the international students who attend Freeman Academy.
“I’m proud of what we bring and what we represent,” he said. “We have massive cultural differences, and watching the players learn about each other is really cool.
“They don’t shy away from that,” Dent continued. “We embrace it, we talk about it, and there’s a high level of respect. That’s something that we don’t see much of in the world, but we have it on our team and that’s been really fun to watch.”
And, he notes, he’s seeing balanced leadership in Chris Cardona, Jonathan Lopez and Jess Bushiga, who are the team’s leading scorers with Liam Ortman right behind.
“The thing that’s really cool is they also lead in assists,” Dent says. “That tells me there’s a lot of growth and a lot of unselfish play; they’re not looking to score. They want to get everybody involved and that says a lot about our team, the progress and what we’ve learned.”