Coach Mike Floersch witnessed it firsthand last fall, as his Rosemount boys’ soccer team pulled off one of the more improbable runs to a state tournament appearance in recent years.
“You could just see it,” Floersch said of the way his team changed late in the season. “We were talking before the playoffs, and the kids were saying, ‘Coach, we can do this. Just look at the way we’re playing. We can do this.’ They just completely believed in themselves, and that can be pretty powerful.”
After starting the 2014 season with an 0-5 record, the Irish found a spark late in the regular season. Rosemount notched consecutive upset victories against each of the top three seeds in the Class 2A, Section 3 tournament.
Making only its second state tournament appearance in program history, Rosemount lost in the first round and finished the year 7-9-3. But that’s not what the team will take away from that experience heading into the 2015 season.
“It’s motivating and refreshing to see what they were able to accomplish; it changes a lot of minds around here,” Floersch said. “And that’s not just for the players, but for the coaches, the parents, the program, everyone.
“Now, it’s ‘What are you going to do to follow that?’ ”
New year, new start
In 2014 the Irish needed to replace nine of their 11 starters. The lineup won’t experience nearly as much turnover this year. Six of Rosemount’s key players are back, although Floersch said there will certainly still be a “feeling-out period.”
“We don’t have the luxury of everyone playing together all summer and just rolling up to the field and going in the fall,” he said. “We might have guys on 10 different teams this summer, all at different levels. So it’ll take a little while.”
Still, Michael Urban will be the goaltender again after a strong 2014 as a junior. Co-captain Sam Heupel will “run everything defensively,” Floersch said, and fellow captain Michael Anderson will anchor the midfield.
The Irish also have Alex Notch, Colin Mitchell and Jacob Schuelke all returning to their roles from last year.
Floersch said his players are already optimistic.
“The biggest thing is that we go in thinking, ‘Hey, we can do this again,’ but still know that it takes a lot of work, takes a whole team and you have to get it done,” the coach said. “You can have as great a team as you want, but you still have to put the ball in the back of the net — and on the other end, keep it out of the net.”
Ready for a run
Floersch said he was surprised by last year’s success — albeit, pleasantly surprised.
“It was amazing to see,” he said. “It’s everything you talk about as a coach: using the regular season as a buildup and precursor to the playoffs. You tell your team that if they put the work in, play the right way and believe in themselves, it’s possible. And that was true last year. It was amazing.”
Floersch said he had other coaches at last year’s state tournament banquet tell him they would use the 2014 Irish squad as a motivating anecdote to future teams. Floersch said his players are luckier than that; they got to experience that run.
“They’ve done it now, they saw what it took,” he said. “They believe they can do it again. They believe in themselves, and in each other. Belief isn’t something you can teach a kid, but it can change everything.”