By Matthew Osterhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Josh Weaver
Kevin Partel scored 113 goals and tallied 36 assists in his high school career.
He was an offensive force. Yet until this year, he had little playing time for the Flagler College Men’s Soccer team. A position change altered everything.
Partel, a junior, got a chance to play sweeper early this season. He has been starting since.
Flagler gave up 10 goals in the first two games of the season, and an injury to captain Eoin Cassin left an opening in the back line and prompted changes from Head Coach John Lynch.
“Coach just sat me down one day and said, ‘Do you want to play sweeper?’ I said I would try it,” Partel said.
Lynch also changed tactics, from high pressure to low pressure, allowing his defense to absorb pressure through the midfield and forcing the whole team to work as a unit. In the last 14 games, the Saints gave up only 10 goals.
Partel says his history of scoring helps him play in the last line of defense.
“I have the offensive mind,” he said. “I know what the forward is going to do. I know where they are going to shoot. I know what run they are going to make. So I know how to follow them.”
Lynch says Partel is a good sweeper because he reads the game instinctively, distributes the ball effectively and plays tough soccer.
Partel knows the team’s success in the Peach Belt Conference is more than his new role. He praises his teammates.
Ryan Endrizzi, Steven Carothers and freshman Adam Jackson are all standouts in defense. Goalkeeper Matt Gilman solidifies the team.
“They have been playing defense their whole life,” Partel said. “They help me out and tell me what to do.”
As the team looks toward the conference tournament, Kevin Partel will likely play an important role with his defense, stopping goals he used to score.