ST. JOSEPH – The weather was ideal, the crowd enthusiastic and the effort noteworthy.
The only blemish for St. Joseph-Ogden in the first varsity soccer match in school history? The score.
"It would have been better had we won or tied, but we got value out of it," SJ-O coach Bill DeJarnette said after Tuesday's debut match, an 8-0 loss to Monticello. "There was no hanging heads. Let it go and learn from it."
All 23 Spartans played – and all their friends and family were on hand to cheer. Or so it seemed.
"A real good turnout," DeJarnette said. "When you looked up, there were lawnchairs the whole length of the field.
"Playing (all 23) was important to me."
The talented Sages dominated play as Thomas Atkins and Erik Oles each scored twice in the first half. Drew Schumacher scored unassisted to make it 5-0 at the half.
Atkins added his third goal in the second half, and Jacob Hanselman and Dylan Lambert each scored.
The Spartans' time will come, said DeJarnette, a former Centennial coach who turned Urbana University High into an area power. Just maybe not in Season No. 1.
SJ-O's roster includes seven freshmen and six girls.
"It's a good nucleus to build a really good program," DeJarnette said. "I really like this group. Practices have been outstanding."
Despite the lopsided outcome, the Spartans didn't sulk afterward.
"The beauty of it was you couldn't tell if we were winning or losing by the way we were playing," DeJarnette said. "They played hard the whole time."