The Brick Wall / Defense has fueled Olympians’ late-season surge

After a slow start to the boys soccer season, Columbus East has caught fire, thanks in large part to its defense.

The Olympians have won 11 of 12 following a 2-2-1 start. In those past 12 games, they’ve allowed only six goals, with half of them coming in a 3-1 loss at Class 3A No. 1 Fishers, and they posted back-to-back shutouts against New Albany and Columbus North in winning last week’s New Albany Sectional.

Thursday night, 3A No. 20 East will look to keep another team off the scoreboard when it hosts 3A No. 3 Castle in the regional semifinals at 7:30 p.m.

“We got one of our goals from (assistant) coach (Nathan) Cline, which was the nine shutouts this season,” junior center back Ben Sylva said. “That was really nice because we didn’t get that last year. Two years ago, we got 12, so we’re hoping to get that by the end of the season.”

East coach Josh Gonsior credited the team’s defensive turnaround to the move of Sylva from the midfield to center back and junior Cam Trueblood from center back to a defensive midfield spot.

“We put a little more speed in the back and kind of used Cam’s attacking instincts a little more, and I think that’s really been the difference for us,” Gonsior said. “There’s three seniors and three juniors mixed in there, so we have a lot of leadership back there, a lot of experience.”

Both Trueblood and Sylva have benefited from their position switches.

“It was really interesting at first because I have all my experience playing center back, and to be moved to (defensive midfield) is kind of a new spot for me,” Trueblood said. “I feel like it’s really worked out, and I’m really loving it. Ever since we switched, we’ve been undefeated except for one game, so I think it’s really working out well for us. I think we’re finally finding our groove.”

“In club, I played center back all season, and I just feel more comfortable at the center back position,” Sylva added. “Then, having Korbin (Hatcher) and the outside backs has been really nice, too.”

Hatcher, a senior, is the most heralded of the defensive players, having been the team’s MVP last season. He pointed to the communication coming from junior goalkeeper Pete Coriden as a big reason for the defensive success.

“Peter just started talking, and he’s really helped us,” Hatcher said. “I know as a center back, he helps me know where everyone is at on the pitch.”

Coriden has emerged as the starting keeper after splitting time with senior Gavin Edgecomb for much of the past two years. Coriden has a 0.74 goals-against average.

“I feel like the center backs to a good job of covering the outside backs, and vice versa,” Coriden said. “I feel like Cam can really take any position in the back line.”

Seniors Weston Romine and Joe Hefner are the outside backs. Romine moved there after playing defensive midfield last year.

“It felt weird at first,” Romine said. “I hadn’t played (outside back) in a couple years. It took me a couple games to get my groove down, but now that I’ve been playing it for awhile, I feel like I’m back at home and am able to contribute a lot better than I could at (defensive midfield.”

Hefner did not see much varsity action as a junior last season before stepping into a starting role this fall.

“It’s a big change,” Hefner said. “It’s really nice though. I’m glad that I get to play with all these good players, especially Korbin. Korbin helps out a lot. I think we do a good job transitioning and covering each other.”

Senior forward Chris Quisenberry (25 goals, seven assists) leads the Olympians offensively. Other top scoring threats include senior midfielders Kevin Galindo Sanchez (five goals, nine assists) and Branson Young (five goals, eight assists) and senior forward Dathan Wolf (three goals, seven assists).

East (13-3-1) will be facing a Castle (18-1) team that has lost only to Lexington (Kentucky) Dunbar. Jackson Mitchell leads the Knights with 24 goals and eight assists.

“They went to the state finals last year and obviously have had a great season this year and have had good results,” Gonsior said. “But I think when we show up and play two halves of soccer, we’re a scary team, and I don’t think anybody wants to play us when we are that team. So my job is to get them prepared to show up to play two halves of soccer.”