Two years ago, Andy Davidson was the starting goalkeeper as a sophomore on a Columbus East team that won its first boys soccer sectional championship in a decade.
The Olympians won the sectional again this season, and Davidson is again a major player. Only this time, he is a starting center back.
“When they first moved me to defense, the first thing I thought was, ‘It’s time to step up and prove that I can play on the field, too, instead of just being a goalkeeper,'” Davidson said. “Coach (Brad Barber) has got me in the gym a lot to work on my speed and my jumping abilities and just improve my athletic ability overall to compete with the people on the field.”
Davidson became the starting keeper midway through sophomore year. He began there last season, but then moved halfway through the year when then-freshman Zach Roberts took over in goal.
Although it lost to Columbus North in last year’s sectional, the move set up East for a big run this year.
“It’s what was best for the team,” Barber said. “Zach Roberts is a top-level goalkeeper, and he’s proved it throughout the season. When he came in, we thought it was a good opportunity to utilize Andy on the field, and Andy did not disappoint. He has been a stud for us in the back.”
This season, Davidson has helped lead a defensive unit that has posted a school-record 10 shutouts. The outfit includes fellow senior center back Scott Hammond, junior outside back Ricky Sanchez, sophomore outside back Gabe Rivera and Roberts.
The group has allowed only 15 goals in 20 games.
“I worked a lot all offseason because I knew going in I’d be starting center back this year,” Davidson said. “I knew that I had a really good center back playing beside me, and I wanted to match that skill level that Scott is putting forward onto the field.”
Davidson is a two-sport standout. He was a semistate wrestling qualifier at 152 pounds last season.
Barber said the success in wrestling has carried over to soccer.
“He’s one of the mentally toughest players I’ve ever coached,” Barber said. “He’s a phenomenal athlete. All the things in does wrestling room, as well as on the soccer pitch, his athleticism is No. 1, but he communicates well, he organizes the players in front of him and he is a very good 1v1 defender.”
Davidson is leaning toward attending Ball State and thinking about majoring in mechanical engineering. He is undecided about playing soccer or doing intramural wrestling in college.
Saturday, Davidson and the Class 3A No. 19 Olympians will be back at Seymour — where they won the sectional — for the regional. They’ll play No. 5 Bloomington South in the semifinals at around noon. If East wins, it would play No. 13 Castle or Perry Meridian in the title game at 7 p.m.
“I think it’s great,” Davidson said. “The East soccer program has come such a long way to know that we can compete at the high level like this and beat other ranked teams in the state. Coach was talking to us, and he thinks that we’re a state-level team, and I think we’re there, too. We’ve competed with Center Grove and B-South and other top programs in the state, so I think we can do it.”
10 a.m.: Castle (14-4-1) vs. Perry Meridian (12-6-1)
Noon: Columbus East (14-2-4) vs. Bloomington South (18-1-1)
7 p.m.: Championship