The South Medford soccer team won its league last year thanks to six first and second team all-league players, but four of those players graduated. Then they found out about the loss of another key player, Mitch North.
“Early in the season, we caught news that we were gonna lose our senior goalkeeper and my first thoughts were how that would affect the team,” said head coach Dave Kaufman.
North moved up to Portland to play for an Under-18 Academy Team, leaving the Panthers with a freshman goalie and some questions on the back line.
“The biggest concern that I was worried about in losing our goalkeeper Mitch was he was a vocal leader and the guys responded very well to that,” said Kaufman.
One player who has stepped up in North’s absence is midfielder Greg Rapet.
“I’m a talkative guy. I like to talk a lot,” said Rapet. “Obviously I like to talk and tell them where to go and set it up ahead of time so then we can build our offense and score goals.”
So far, the results have spoken for themselves, 31 goals through just eight games. At 7-1, the Panthers are starting to resemble a team of the recent past.
“It’s very reminiscent of when Mitch North was a freshman and it was about this point in the season where we inserted him into the team and that year he led us to a state championship,” said Kaufman. “I don’t know that that’s gonna happen this year, but we’re gonna make our best effort.”