Fourteen saves in one soccer match requires a great deal of leaping and lateral movement for a goalkeeper.
Gabe Vessely accomplished this twice last season — as a freshman.
The 6-foot-4, 170-pound sophomore is the last line of defense for Greenwood Christian Academy. He is one of the main returning players for a program that has posted a record of 26-8-1 since the start of the 2015 season.
Vessely made 91 saves and allowed 18 goals as a freshman. His 14-save efforts were during regular-season matches against Crispus Attucks (a 2-1 win) and University (a 2-0 loss).
“There were a couple of matches I look back on and think I could have done better,” said Vessely, who made eight saves in three of the Cougars’ other matches. “Maybe I’m putting up too high of expectations.”
The Cougars open this season Aug. 15 at Morristown.
Greenwood Christian’s home opener is two days later when it hosts Trinity Lutheran.
Dan Carmichael, Greenwood Christian boys soccer coach from 2011-16 (former assistant George Huizinga takes over this season), said Vessely’s best varsity outing is the victory against Attucks.
He knows Vessely will have stockpiled similar records and outings by the time he graduates.
“As a freshman you never know, but Gabe definitely earned his spot last year,” Carmichael said. “I think his next three seasons are going to be unbelievable. He’s got what it takes to be an outstanding goalie.”
Vessely is blessed with the height and long arms necessary to cover a great deal of ground. Other prerequisites for successful goalkeeping include quickness, instincts, fearlessness, field vision and an ability to communicate with teammates.
The sophomore said he thinks he improved all aspects playing travel soccer from April through early June. Vessely also is better prepared mentally for the rigors of his soccer duties than at this time a year ago.
“Being a freshman, you get scored on and you feel the world is coming to an end when obviously it’s not,” Vessely said.
“I definitely have more experience and am a lot quicker than before just by getting more reps in playing travel soccer. You’ve just got to stay with it.”
Vessely hopes to help lead the Cougars to a third Class A sectional title in five years. Individually, a great season is recording 100 or more saves and permitting fewer than 10 goals.
“Really, though, I just want to win games,” he said.
Vessely’s formidable presence in goal automatically presents an element of stinginess to the Greenwood Christian Academy defense. On offense, the Cougars return 11 of the 13 players who scored at least one goal last season.
Lofty expectations are nothing new for Greenwood Christian boys soccer, or the player who’ll soon go into every match wanting to hold the opponent scoreless.
“We have the talent and work ethic,” Vessely said.
“I feel like we can go pretty far in the tournament this year, but that’s only going to happen if we come together as a team.”
Name: Gabe Vessely
School: Greenwood Christian
Family: Parents, Tom and Tasha;
brothers, Isaac, 12, and Micah,11
Favorite TV show: “SportsCenter”
Favorite food: Steak
Favorite movie: “Hoosiers”
Favorite athlete: Manuel Neuer
Favorite team: Indiana Pacers