The Libby High School soccer team fell to the Polson Pirates 4-0 last Saturday in their final game of the season.
Though the Pirates did well against the Loggers for the first half, Libby came back strong in the second half defensively, keeping Polson from any further goals.
“The second half was really good,” said Libby Head Coach Jeff Zwang. “All of their goals came in the first half, and a couple of them were probably a little unlucky to concede, but, you know, Polson was playing well too.”
Zwang said that Libby made some formation changes part way through the second half that worked well, though some of the improved Logger play in the second half may have simply come down to athleticism.
“I think conditioning is really important in soccer. A lot of it can come down to who has the legs those last 15 minutes,” he said.
Regardless the final outcome, the Loggers played to their potential, Zwang said.
“We made some mistakes, and we didn’t quite start as quickly as I’d have liked, but that’s all kind of give and take,” he said. “We’re not going to have all of those things come together every game, every time, but I thought they did play well.”
Zwang said that the overall atmosphere of the team has been good this year, which is his first as coach.
“The camaraderie there is good. The leadership from those seniors is good,” he said. “We have kind of all different types of personalities, but they gel well. They can make fun of each other, enjoy playing the game, but they still come together and work hard for each other and lift each other up and keep each other in it.”
Zwang said there are things both he and the returning players will have to work on for next year, but that there are two sides to that coin.
“I think there’s a lot of things to be proud of and impressed by too. I’m very proud of the guys for how they’ve conducted themselves this season, and I have a lot to be thankful for from them,” he said.
Zwang acknowledged the difficulties of having a new coach and the time it took for both him and the players to get to know and trust one another.
“They were patient with me and I appreciate that, and they worked really well with each other, and I appreciate that very much too,” he said.
A lifelong soccer fan and former Logger player, Zwang said he applied for the open coaching position after a number of people -- including retiring coach Mark Peterson -- encouraged him to apply for it.
“I had some good encouragement from people to do it, so I did, and I’m glad I did,” he said. “It’s a very good experience, a rewarding experience. These guys are a lot of fun to work with.”
Zwang said he hopes that the players have found working with him rewarding as well.
“I’d like to provide a good role model, or example, and some good leadership, and to help develop them,” he said.
At the high school level, it’s not just about developing players as athletes, but as people, he said. “And I see a lot of that, and a lot of really good things from these guys that will stand them well, whatever they end up doing in life, and that’s what you want to see.”