Rookie-laden Western Wolves hunting down what it takes to win on the pitch
They’ve only played two games, but “Monster Truck” is proving he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Gavin Luther is one of 13 rookies suiting up for the Western Wolves soccer team, based out of Corner Brook, which began play in the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association’s under-13 boys’ Premier Youth League last weekend.
With only four returning players, the Wolves are rebuilding, and it’s going to take a team effort to do well.
For Luther and the other rookies, this is the first time they’ve played competitive soccer on a full field with 11 players aside, graduating from playing seven-aside on half the field last year.
Coach Tracey Drover took notice of Luther’s agility, speed and relative size a couple of years ago. Last summer, she urged him to play in the noncompetitive provincial U-12 mega tournament.
It was there, she noted, that his prowess as a central defender began to shine and was where his strength in that position earned the nickname “Monster Truck.”
“He’s kind of hard to beat on that defensive line,” Drover said of Luther’s nickname. “His timing and accuracy are really good for such a young age and he knows when to step in and get his foot on the ball.”
Now, Drover hopes her scouting instincts will pay off with Luther playing a key role for the Wolves.
“Gavin has really quickly taken to that role as a central defender and owning that space and leading the boys out the back,” she said.
Luther welcomes learning the more advanced aspects of the game, including the need for effective communication between teammates as they try to get the ball into the offensive end of the field and keep it there.
“There’s a lot more running and a lot more strategy,” he said. “In under-12, it’s just pass it up, but you can’t really just do that anymore because the other team will just take it. Sometimes you have to pass it back.”
The team lost its first two matches at home to Fieldians, one of the stronger teams in the six-team provincial setup. They lost 4-1 in their season opener June 1 and fell 4-3 the next day, despite mounting a comeback from a 4-1 deficit at halftime and nearly tying the game in the dying minutes.
“They had a pretty good team and have had a lot of practice,” Luther said of their first opponent of the season.
Drover was happy to see the team rally in the second half of their second game and show some grit and determination until the final whistle. She is hoping they can learn to be a little more assertive when it comes to gaining and maintaining control of the play as the season goes on.
The team played a practice game in Deer Lake this past weekend. The Wolves next test in the provincial league will be on the road this weekend for three matches. They play Mount Pearl on Friday, take on St. John’s on Saturday and Conception Bay South on Sunday.
“The goal is to get better as we go,” said Luther. “We’ll keep on practising and hopefully we can get a win. It’s going to be sweet to get that first one.”
The Wolves won’t play their next home game until the weekend of July 13-14 when they host Paradise.
Gavin Luther of Corner Brook is a central defender with the Western Wolves soccer team competing in the provincial U-13 Boys Premier Youth League this season.