It was going to be an new era for Oregon soccer this fall.
Long the starter in net for the Hawks, Jaspreet Gill graduated in the spring, leaving coach Seger Larson to look for a replacement. The man for the job is sophomore Owen Ketter.
“His reaction time is great,” Larson said. “He’s going down to the ground more than he has been earlier in the year. He’s a sophomore, and he’s come a long way.”
Ketter made 12 saves against Dixon last week, but still allowed five goals as the Dukes put 17 shots on frame.
“I just try to stay in front of the ball and stay in my position at all times, and be ready for any shot,” Ketter said.
Ketter played one game in goal last year, and is still learning the ropes of being the full-time varsity starter.
“The speed of the game is a lot faster,” Larson said. “You’re getting
shots ripped at you, different angles, more than what you can anticipate in practice. He has great communication skills back there for a first-year starter.”
Part of that learning came over the summer, when Ketter worked one-on-one with the man he replaced. Before Gill left town to study at the University of Iowa, he met with Ketter once a week throughout the summer to get his successor up to speed.
“We would train for about 1 or 2 hours every Thursday,” Ketter said. “He just worked on getting me to actually dive, and get me to go out of my comfort zone.”
Ketter said that watching Gill over the years was a great help, and Gill took Ketter under his wing last year in anticipation of Ketter taking the job this year.
“He didn’t care if he got dirty, he did whatever it would take to get to the ball,” Ketter said.
The youth movement doesn’t stop with the sophomore Ketter in net. Against Dixon, Oregon started sophomore Grant Cermack on the back line, sophomores Adam Thorsen and Alan Acosta in the midfield, and freshman Joey Gelander up top, with another freshman, Liam Dickson-Harriett, seeing plenty of playing time.
In an 11-2 win over South Beloit on Saturday, Dickson-Harriett scored twice and Gelander added a goal and three assists.
The Hawks have just three seniors on the roster: Jonathan Acosta, Ryan Lazansky and Brigham Finch.
“We only have a couple upper classmen, really, so I’m hoping they show a little bit better leadership,” Larson said.
Ketter has goals for the season and beyond – not for himself, but for the team.
“I’m hoping this season we can win a game in the playoffs, and by my senior year we can at least win a regional final and make it to sectionals,” he said.