David Herem has coached long enough to know that the difference between success and failure in soccer is minuscule.
A year ago, the Eastview girls’ soccer team began the season with a program-best 11-0 run. The Lightning lost just twice during the entire regular season. It played eventual Class 2A state champion Eagan to a tie, the only blemish on the Wildcats’ unbeaten record.
Still, Eastview didn’t make it past a difficult Class 2A, Section 3 matchup with South Suburban rival Burnsville. The Lightning lost 2-1.
“We had a great team that made an unbelievable run to start the season against one of the toughest schedules you can do it against,” Herem said. “But we were a defensive team. We won games 2-1, 1-0; it’s not like we were destroying teams.
“It’s a funny sport like that. You can have the best team in the world and still have some bad bounces and not make it past sections. Then you can have other years where you easily get through. You never know.”
For Herem, the key is to simply stick to the present and focus on what his team can control.
Right now that would be preparing for a season that, on the surface, appears promising for the reloading Lightning.
“I’m very, very fortunate to be here at Eastview where we seem to have talented kids coming up each and every year,” he said.
“We lost a lot of quality, quality players from last year’s team — three captains that were just tremendous leaders and I was blessed to coach.
“But, at the same time, we have players coming up each year. These are kids that have gone through the program, seen success, and they expect it. They put on an Eastview jersey and they expect to be successful. That’s not changing.”
Each year, though, Herem said, everything else is open to change — from positions to style of play.
The Lightning return two top senior defenders in Mia Giorgi, an all-state selection a year ago, and Christina Barry, who played this summer for one of Minnesota Thunder Academy’s elite national clubs.
Goalkeeper Claudia Pueschner will be back in net for her junior season. Last year Pueschner had a breakout season, earning more and more playing time during the Lightning’s impressive run.
“Right off the bat, we should be a team that’s very tough to score on,” Herem said. “And that’s a good place to start. If you want to have a successful season and be a strong team, that’s where it starts.”
Herem prefers not to pigeonhole his team’s playing style, though.
Eastview is not a defensive-oriented program, or a fast-paced, offensive program, he said. It can be both — or either one — depending on how the roster shapes up each fall.
“I don’t think we have a specific style of play,” he said. “We roll out great athletes every year.
“We encourage them to play other sports, and we have hockey players and gymnasts and dancers, kids who are just strong athletes and love to compete. That’s where we start, and then we let the rest play out.”
Eastview opens the season against East Ridge on Aug. 27, and Herem said the team’s schedule doesn’t offer many breathers. He prefers to take it one step at a time, though.
“Anything can happen as the season goes along,” he said. “Last year, to make that run, we did a great job with just worrying about winning the next one, then the next one after that.
“We’re going to see how it goes. We’re going to work extremely hard to be one of the fittest teams out there, to play the right way, and we’ll just see what happens from there.’’