By Ryan buck
What can Brown do for you?
For the Champion High boys soccer team on Saturday evening, it was just about everything, even fulfilling the long-standing rite of passage for every freshman who ever stepped foor on a soccer field.
After stopping 15 Lakeview shots and preserving a 0-0 tie with the Golden Flashes’ All-American Conference National Division rivals, Kyle Brown packed the team’s soccer balls into their travel bag and even assisted an encumbered classmate tasked with carrying the Gatorade jug back to the locker room.
“It’s a big thing,” Brown said of his responsibilities as a goalkeeper, especially a young one facing the number one seed in the upcoming Division II district tournament. “You’ve just gotta go out and play; and be humble, very humble.”
The Bulldogs, who outlasted the Flashes 5-4 in their first matchup earlier in the season, mounted attacks and launched shots at Brown from every angle at every opportunity.
Whether it was a cross into the box intended for the Bulldogs’ prolific scorer Colton Ainsley, a charging run at goal from their most skilled player in Matt Pasternak, or a drive from one of Lakeview’s numerous scoring options, Brown was up to the task.
“Tonight was the Kyle Brown show,” Lakeview coach Nate Mailich said. “He had his coming out party tonight. He was fantastic in goal for them. He was the difference in this ball game for sure.”
Ten minutes into the game, Brown deflected Ainsley’s left-footed drive wide.
At the 11:30 mark, Ainsley found Anthony Sember alone for a wide open attempt that Brown again speared wide.
With 21 minutes remaining, Austin Olbrych trapped a short cross, pivoted to his left and unleashed another blast, only to see Brown, fully-extended, deny him with a diving grab.
Champion’s offensive output for the night was book-ended by two chances from forward John Preboonick. Less than 10 seconds into the game, he stole a lazy Lakeview pass 20 yards from goal but pushed his shot wide of the net.
With 20 minutes left in the game, he fought off Lakeview defender Nate Erickson, but goalkeeper Jackson Gagne denied his hard, low shot. It was the only save he made.
With his back turned to his newfound star stalking the team’s bench alone looking for loose gear, Champion coach Tyler Le Mon was far enough away that he could sing his praises, should Brown ever think he’s outgrown his rookie duties.
“As a freshman, you really can’t ask for anything better,” Le Mon said.