KIRKLAND – There were glimpses of progress in Hiawatha’s 7-1 loss to Serena on Monday.
Observers can see the developing give-and-go’s, the creation of numerous scoring opportunities and verbal communication from the back line.
But the Hawks (0-8, 0-6 Little Ten Conference) are learning the hard way that the rebuilding process will take time. Hiawatha was overwhelmed by a Serena team with a deeper roster and more experienced players accustomed to the speed and physicality of the varsity level in the Little Ten.
Hiawatha has had to replace 11 players, including 10 starters, from last year’s team. The bulk of those players were the same ones Hiawatha had relied on since the varsity program got its start three years ago.
“It’s completely new,” Hiawatha coach Kyle Monestero said. “Some of these guys I had as freshmen, but it’s a new batch of boys. Even a couple of my older guys are transfers and are new.”
The lone returning starter for Hiawatha from last season is senior Gage Grant. The senior midfielder/forward had the Hawks’ lone goal on Monday, taking a pass from fellow senior Taylor Edwards and one-touching a sliding shot past the Serena goalie eight minutes into the second half.
He was part of the freshman class that came in when the soccer program was first started and said it’s been a tough adjustment without last year’s senior class.
“We’re getting stuff down more, but we need to execute everything better,” Grant said. “We do everything in practice perfect, but we can’t bring it out on the field.”
While this year’s team is young, the Hawks should benefit from the experience down the road.
One of the new transfers, junior Roberto Sylva, has become the vocal leader of the defense and is capable of making plays with the ball at his feet.
Sophomore goalie Jake Mlodzianowski, the younger brother of Marek, who was part of last year’s senior class, also is getting his first heavy doses of playing time at the varsity level after only seeing the field for a few minutes here and there in 2012. Although the stats show Mlodzianowski surrendered seven goals Monday, he came up with more than a dozen key saves and already showed a willingness to be aggressive off his line and outside the penalty box.
After experiencing a lot of immediate success in the program’s first three seasons, Hiawatha will hopefully see the the gains made during this season in future years.
“There’s just got to be a lot more experience especially on the fundamental end,” Monestero said. “Until we get over that hump, they’re going to continue to struggle.”