INWOOD – The Cougars haven’t seen an undefeated conference season since 2014 – until tonight. After handing the Applemen a 1-0 loss, Jefferson now looks toward a sectional fight against either the Patriots or Trojans next Thursday.
Leading scorer Brennan King grabbed the lone goal tonight, sinking a high ball mid-slide from the outside corner over Musselman’s keeper. King relayed that he dedicated his 15th goal of the season to his father.
“It’s his birthday, which is why I threw up that heart to him on the field,” King said.
Although it was a low-scoring game, both teams fought hard on the slippery grass. Each group had several shots-on-goal, but neither could finish on passes that would have more than likely gone in given different field conditions.
“I really like this team,” Head Coach Chris Steffey said. “It’s the stingiest defense we’ve ever had, giving up the fewest goals ever. That being said, we need to finish on the goals that are given to us. We like to make it hard on ourselves, although the way we’re playing right now is pretty darn good.”
Closing in on his sixth year as head coach, Steffey is now preparing for Sectionals. The Patriots, led by former Cougars Assistant Coach Marc Wenner, will face off against Jefferson at Cougar Stadium on Thursday.
“The guys need to put the ball in the net, and they need to keep Michael Barr in check,” Steffey said. “If we can do those two things, we should have good results.”
When asked about playing against his former assistant, Steffey said with a laugh, “It’s fine, it’s no big deal. It’s weird seeing him on the other side, but we have no bad vibes. He’s one of my best friends, and that will never change.”
Assistant Coach Daniel Hussion took a moment to look back, however.
Hussion’s senior year was 2014, the first time Jefferson – or any EPAC team for that matter – went undefeated since the conference’s establishment.
“It’s pretty euphoric if I’m being honest with you,” Hussion said. “Being able to do it my senior year with some of my best friends and then coming out and spending an entire season with the boys, it’s awesome that they’re able to reach the heights that I was able to reach in 2014. I truly believe that this team can be better than we were.”
Hussion sees reflections of his senior team in the current group’s playing style.
“We’ve kept a lot of the style because Steffey is still the head coach. He has instilled almost this possession and clean soccer mentality, and you can see how that keeps coming out every year,” Hussion said. “I believe that’s what has been key to our success this year – the team play.”
Going from playing for Steffey to being one of his right-hand men, Hussion considers Steffey to be one of the best coaches he’s worked with.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play [at Shepherd University] and semi-pro ball, and I still think Steffey is one of the best out there. For him to recognize me as being able to coach to his standards, it’s a big honor.”