While the Oak Hill Golden Eagles finished under .500 in 2018, Joel Garverick’s first year at the helm was a successful one.
After some inconsistent play in the earlier stages of the season, the Golden Eagles really gelled as a unit late in the year. They played some of their best soccer in the final weeks of the season, which included an upset win over Marion – their first in nine years – in the first round of the sectional.
Now heading into year two of his tenure, Garverick is looking to build on both the successes and the failures of his rookie year in order to take Oak Hill boys soccer to new heights.
“Our biggest focus over the offseason has been on consistency,” Garverick said. “We played well at times, but we also played really poorly at times. We’ve been trying to reach that consistency every single practice. We’ve focused on playing hard. Every single drill we go through, whether it’s something fun or something more mundane…we are making sure that every rep is done with intensity and done with the same amount of focus as we would in games.”
Last year, Garverick was heading into his first season as a head coach. He was focused on building his program the right way, instilling his culture and working to effectively communicate what he wanted from his players.
Now, with a full season of coaching under his belt, his confidence level heading into 2019 is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was a year ago.
“I’m definitely more comfortable and more on top of things this year,” Garverick said. “I feel like I understand what I’m looking for. I can communicate a little bit better with my players. We are on the same page about what expectations are and what we need to do day in and day out to be successful.”
The Golden Eagles have been dedicated to building an effective program, and it starts in the offseason. They have worked tirelessly, pushing one another to be great, and Garverick has been pleased with the results.
“Fundamentals are something that we feed into everyday practices,” Garverick said. “We are [continuing] to work on those to keep those up, [along] with building off of that foundation and continuing to incorporate the style we ran, making some tweaks and adjustments.
“We have the potential to accumulate a lot of wins. We have a big group of seniors, so their leadership is going to make or break our team. They are pushing each other the way that they should. They are pushing the other guys. We have a lot of talent, that’s for sure.”
While the Golden Eagles did lose some talented seniors, including Isaiah Henry and Luke VanBibber, they will have their leading scorer back in 2019. In 15 games last season, Gavin Holz finished with 15 goals, seven more than the next closest player. Heading into his senior season, Garverick expects Holz to once again lead the offense in the coming campaign.
“Gavin had a really nice offseason,” Garverick said. “He put in work both on the soccer field and in the weight room. He’s in really good shape. Seeing how he’s gotten bigger, faster, and stronger, [that’s] going to be a scary sight for defenders. We are looking for Gavin to score some goals for us.”
Dalian Leach, who finished with eight goals last season, will also be a scoring option for the Golden Eagles, while Thommy Seybold will man the centerback position as the leader of the defense. Along with that, Sam Boyer, who made incredible strides as a goalkeeper last season, will also be back, looking to pick up where he left off.
Oak Hill also has several newcomers who will look to make their mark in 2019. Corey Griffin, a transfer who just moved into the area, is an incredibly skilled player who is ready to contribute. Weston Seybold, Thommy’s younger brother, is a mature player beyond his years, and has really stepped up his game throughout the summer.
“He’s a smaller guy, but I love what he brings to the table,” Garverick said of Seybold. “His mentality is off the charts. He’s had an incredible summer, and will be one of the leaders on this team. He’s a natural born leader. I’m looking forward to what Weston can do on and off the field for our team.”
With this group and all the advancements they have made, the Golden Eagles have the potential to be a much-improved squad in 2019.
“I expect us to compete in every single game that we are in,” Garverick said. “I don’t care if we are playing the worst team on our schedule or the best team on our schedule, there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be able to compete and have a chance to win every single game on our schedule. We are looking forward to going up against the best of the best and seeing what we are made of.”