COPENHAGEN — Usually by Oct. 14, soccer sectionals are around the corner, but in 2020, Wednesday marked the first day of a Frontier League season that wasn’t always guaranteed to happen. Copenhagen began the opening day slate of games at 4 p.m. on their new turf field, and closed out the contest with a 1-0 win over Beaver River.
There are countless reasons to think that this abbreviated fall season won’t feel authentic — the fact that only four Frontier League teams are participating is near the top of that list — but a desire to compete was on full display by both teams, Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s actually gotten them a little bit more excited,” Copenhagen coach Logan Spaulding said. “Because there are no “D” schools. I basically made a joke, I said ‘you guys have nothing to lose, you already wrapped up the “D” Division.’ But being able to play Beaver River and South Lewis for the “C” Division, which we would anyways, just one game, and Lowville a “B” school, I think in soccer it’s a little different compared to like basketball, I think we can handle our own against the bigger schools, for the most part.”
The Golden Knights (1-0) were able to get past Beaver River (0-1) with only one goal. Dakota Snyder sent the ball past goalkeeper Sawyer Schwendy, thanks to an assist from Lucas Graves, halfway through the first half. His goal was the first on the school’s new turf, “not many people can say they did that,” Snyder said.
“It’s still soccer, it’s still the game,” Snyder said. “It’s going to be a little different playing the same teams over and over again, so you have to kind of switch it up, so they don’t know your every move.”
The season won’t culminate with sectionals or even the Frontier League playoffs. Copenhagen currently has seven games remaining on their schedule, the last of which coming on Oct. 30.
After the game, Spaulding told his team that their remaining games may outnumber their practices, meaning that improvements will have to be made on the fly.
Lukas Slate, sat in goal for the Golden Knights. Toward the end, as both teams tired, the Beavers began to press harder in Copenhagen’s zone, forcing Slate to intercept or swat away a few balls before they crossed the goal line.
But when Slate, who made six saves, wasn’t immediately faced with the threat of a Beaver goal, he was keeping his eye on the action downfield, often barking instructions to his teammates.
“I see the field better than anybody, I see things nobody else sees,” Slate said. “My job is to just line everybody up, make sure everyone is in position and tell people to get some balls where they have to go.”
This allows Spaulding to take a load off of his own voice.
“If I need something to be told to the team, well he’ll certainly get that message across,” Spaulding said. “Now, whether he sends that in the right way or right tone is a different story, but he means well and wants what’s best for everybody on the team.”
For game one, Slate thought the good outweighed the bad in terms of the team’s performance. Stamina is something that will have to be improved, but the Golden Knights didn’t appear all that rusty.
“I like our positioning, that went pretty well,” Slate said. “Our defenders did a good job, a lot of hustle out of everybody on the field, so I’m pretty happy about that.”
Copenhagen out shot Beaver River 11-9, Shareef Stokely had a few shots that should have ended in the back of the net.
Despite being shutout, the Beavers created a few opportunities. They controlled much of the possession in the early minutes of the game and then again at the end. One of Beaver River’s best scoring opportunities came on a late breakaway by Karson Smith that was ultimately thwarted by Graves.
Beaver River and Copenahgen will meet again in Beaver Falls on Oct. 21.