Holmen soccer off to best start in school history - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Holmen soccer off to best start in school history

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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

It's easy for Jeffrey Young to remember the lopsided scores and losing seasons.

He was in net for all of them.

"It never truly connected, but now it's like, "Oh, we know who to pass to.' and the communication is way better," he said.

For years, Holmen has been stuck at the bottom of the Mississippi Valley Conference standings, struggling to win more than a handful of games in a season.

This year, the Vikings are already 5-0, and just broke the school record for conference wins in a season with its third MVC triumph on Tuesday night over Logan.

"I really feel like this team has overcome that challenge to not lose and to actually score goals," said Young, who has started since his freshman year.

Many members of the team expected 2015 to bring better results, mainly because it features 13 seniors and nearly a dozen returning starters. But the fashion in which the season has started has been surprising.

"Normally, you go out there, you think you're going to lose, but since then, you think you're going to win every game," said senior midfielder Corey Andrews. "We're going to try and win the MVC Conference, maybe regionals, sectionals."

Freshman midfielder Jacob Clements also said he would like to win the conference title. The key to success so far has been ball movement, communication, and finding key players like goal-scorer Alex Dikeman.

Another key to the turnaround at Holmen has been the development of a youth soccer program. Vikings head coach Andy Olson helped start the program in 2005 with the introduction of a JV team - the Varsity was added in 2007 - but also spent countless hours creating teams for children to introduce them to the game. Today, there are approximately 450 kids participating each year in youth leagues.

Olson said one of the many challenges at that time was trying to balance his efforts between both programs. 

"The first couple years were a little different when you're explaining to high school players the name of your position, this is where you stand, this is how you play," Olson said. "It was teaching them from the ground up where we play against a lot of other programs that - these kids come in with 10-12 years experience before they even got to high school. We just hadn't had that until the last couple years.

"It was one of my goals was to see these kids go from the time they were 5- or 6-years-old all the way until they're 18."

Clements and Young are prime examples of the work done by Olson. Both started playing soccer the first year Olson took over the program, and have stuck with him ever since. Now, they're rewarding him with varsity wins.

"Andy's amazing, he works hard," Young said. "He is hard, but you've just got to overcome that and he knows that he wants to make the soccer program better."

Olson expressed some relief having broken the record for conference wins, but said his team has done a nice job of not showing signs of settling amid the success. He feels his team has yet to play it's best game.

The next hurdle for Holmen is getting a playoff win. The Vikings do not own one, but did score their first goals of the WIAA tournament in 2014 against Tomah, ultimately falling in a shootout.

The girls' team recently picked up its first-ever playoff win back in June after beating Central in a shootout. Jeffrey's sister Caitlin was in net for Holmen.

More information about the Viking Youth Soccer Association can be found here.

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