Perryville boys’ soccer coach Jerry Fulton uses the summer to see just how good his team before the regular season begins.
The Pirates took that to the limit last week. Perryville competed in the St. Louis Varsity Showcase from Thursday through Saturday July 15-17. The team played three games, going 1-2 in the process.
Fulton said his teams have been going to the Showcase for the past 10 seasons and he likes that it tests his squad.
“Number one, we play teams that we will never see during the course of the regular season,” Fulton said. “It’s always good to play someone new and we make sure we play up a division or two. It gives you a chance to evaluate your team before anything counts.”
Perryville defeated Francis Howell North 2-0 on Thursday and Fulton liked how his team looked in the first game.
“We were moving some things around, but we were able to get our feet underneath us and our defense was very good the whole game.”
On Friday, the Pirates fell to Shawnee Mission South, a 6A team from Kansas, losing 3-1.
Fulton noted that Shawnee was a very good squad and he felt like his team held it’s own.
“They got us down 2-0 from the start and I felt like we would see what we were made of, a little bit,” Fulton said. “Shawnee was very good and we got a goal to make it 2-1. They scored on a chip over the goalie’s head as he was trying to make it back. We played with them, but I feel like we played right with them.”
Perryville ended the event with a 1-0 loss to Oakville. The Pirates made one mistake in the game as the goalie and a defender collided, giving Oakville a wide open goal.
“I almost feel like that could’ve been a 0-0 tie,” Fulton said. “If I can go up and play two class 4 teams from St. Louis, and beat one and lose to the other by a goal, I think that’s a win for Perryville.”
Perryville lost only two seniors from last year’s squad and he felt like it served his team well in the Showcase, especially when substituting players from the bench.
“Our starting 11 isn’t much different than last year,” Fulton said. “I felt like in the Showcase we didn’t have that drop-off when we put other people in the games. At any given time, I had five or six sophomores on the field. I think if you play with nearly half your team on the field is sophomores and you’re still competitive that only bodes well for the season.”
Perryville has spent the summer doing open fields twice per week. Fulton estimated that he had nearly 30 players per session, with a few of them being girls from the Lady Pirates squad.
Fulton spent a majority of the time working on ball skills.
“We will let them do some scrimmaging as well, but more than anything, it’s about them just touching the ball. We’ve been working on the tight passing games and different ball skill drills that will benefit us going forward.
Perryville is coming off a 12-4 season last fall, that saw them ranked number one in Class 2 for a few weeks.
Fulton has high expectations for the team, but more importantly, to him the boys have even higher ones.
“We have five or six seniors this year and this is their last shot,” Fulton said. “They are going to do their best to make it something special.”
Those open fields along with the Showcase is what helps his teams get better, according to Fulton.
“Of course I want to win, but that was not the main goal of the Showcase,” Fulton said. “The objective was to see if we were training the kids properly and if we could compete at that high level. I think the answer to both of those questions was yes.”
Perryville soccer, along with all other teams in Missouri, begins its regular season practices Monday, Aug. 9.
“I’m always excited for the season to start and I think we should do well,” Fulton said.