Photo by Jeff Helmkamp
Kaleb Bassett of Civic Memorial battles a Waterloo player for the ball on Sept. 7 at the Bethalto Sports Complex. The Eagles won the Metro Cup Tournament earlier this season and were 5-2 entering this week after winning just six games over the previous three seasons combined.
Although the 2016 campaign is still young, the Civic Memorial boys’ soccer team has turned in an improved season.
CM finished last year with a dismal 2-16-1 record. So far this year, CM has surpassed last year’s win total with a 5-2 record entering this week. That record includes a Metro Cup championship.
Coach Derek Jarman started as head coach last year after logging in two years as an assistant under Gary Knight and thus far has had the Eagles spreading their wings.
To start out the season, CM defeated Roxana 7-0 on Aug. 22, Wesclin 6-2 on Aug. 24, Freeburg 3-2 on Aug. 25, Mascoutah 2-1 on Aug. 27 and Staunton 6-1 on Aug. 30 to jump out to a 5-0 record before falling to Highland and Waterloo to open the Mississippi Valley Conference portion of the season. The wins over Wesclin, Freeburg and Mascoutah were part of the Metro Cup.
After scoring 25 goals in their first five outings, the Eagles lost 5-1 to Highland on Sept. 1 and defending Class 2A state champion Waterloo beat them 7-0 on Sept. 7. The losses to Highland and Waterloo put CM at 0-2 to open MVC play.
“Building up to this, we started out at 5-0,” Jarman said after the Waterloo loss. “But we knew it didn’t mean anything against Highland or coming here (Waterloo) because you’re facing two of the best teams in 2A. One is the defending champ and I think Highland can compete with these guys (Waterloo). But these guys don’t read the paper, these guys don’t concern themselves with that; they just want to get better every single day. We’ve done that, but when you lose 7-0 (Waterloo) people don’t believe that. It’s a more competitive game in terms of what we’re trying to do, moving the ball back and forth and getting some shots off, better than in years past. I think being 5-0 gave these guys confidence that they could do that. They can play the game a little with Waterloo.”
Junior forward-midfielder Kaleb Bassett has served as the team’s spark plug, as he had netted 13 goals and three assists entering the week. Bassett attended Belleville West High School for the previous two years. Although he didn’t play soccer for the school, he played select soccer on a Scott Gallagher-affiliated team.
Bassett is the son of former CM standout Roshan Bassett and Alton star Lindsay Kennedy-Eversmeyer, so soccer runs through his veins.
Parker Calvin, Trevor Panyik and Mikey Stevenson each have three goals for CM also in the more dynamic 2016 offense.
“He’s an amazing player,” Jarman said of Bassett. “He’s one of the most technically skilled players in the area. When you watch him play, he plays at a different level. He just exudes confidence from all of the other players and makes them better. That’s the best thing I can say about him. He has 13 goals this year, but every single one of them is assisted by somebody. It’s not a one-man show.”
Senior goalkeeper Jacoby Robinson has compiled a 5-2 record and has 72 saves. He has one shutout — the 7-0 rout of Roxana on Aug. 22. CM lost seven seniors last year and has just three this year — Robinson, Panyik and Colin Hall.
“Our seniors have shown a lot of leadership,” Jarman said. “Jacoby Robinson, he’s either going to play college soccer or college hockey, I think if you ask him he’d want to play both. He’s a leader on and off of the field. The kids rally around him and love him.”
Like Robinson, Panyik plays more than one sport, as he’s also a punter on the football team.
“He’s 100 miles an hour,” Jarman said of Panyik’s speed. “It seems like he weighs 120 pounds, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he plays. He’s a very skilled player and he has a level head.”
Jarman gives credit to the tenacity his seniors have displayed through tough times. CM posted an 11-2 record in 2011 under longtime coach Don Woelfel and have never won 10 matches in a season since then.
“They are good leaders and I can’t say enough about them,” he said. “They’ve been through the ranks here. They’ve won six games coming into this year; that’s two games each year. For them to start at 5-0, it’s a testament to those guys not quitting, not giving up and continuing to fight.”
All of the seniors are logging in their fourth year with CM’s soccer program.
“They’ve been doing this for four years and they’re finally putting it together,” Jarman said. “As a coach, I’m not going to cut out our articles and say ‘we’re 5-0’, but it really felt good for these kids. They needed victories and they needed that confidence and they needed to know that all of the hard work they’re putting in matters.”
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