It was an emotional day for the Aberdeen Central boys’ soccer squad on Saturday afternoon at Swisher Field.
Not only did the Golden Eagles score two goals in the final seven minutes to break a scoreless tie against Brookings, the 2-0 victory was a fitting sendoff for coach Steve Cogley who is leaving the program for a new work position in Sioux Falls.
“It impacted us,” said Central senior Zee Mounga. “We tried to win this game for him so we could end on a good note.”
It was Mounga who scored on a header with less than seven minutes remaining to put Central in front. It came on a corner kick.
“It happened so fast. I just saw it come off of Jameson Palmer’s head and I just finished it,” Mounga said. “I was so surprised when it happened.”
Moments later Jelani Peters found the back of the net to give the Eagles some breathing room.
Prior to the late barrage, Brookings had found a way to keep Central off the board.
“We’ve seen this against teams. They’ll sit and play like a 4-5-1 and make it really difficult for us to score,” Cogley said. “It’s just a matter of really staying patient. I knew at the end I wanted to do some pretty intense ball pressure and save the legs, because they wouldn’t be ready for it.”
Not only did the Bobcats’ defense stymie Central, their goalie (Tyler Sprang) also was up to the challenge throughout the first 70 plus minutes of the contest.
“He’s an amazing goalie. We knew that,” Cogley said. “We were going to have to hit balls hard and on frame, and he still got his paw on a couple of them.”
In the end, however, the motivated Eagles made sure Cogley walked off the field a winner one last time.
Cogley is the only head boys’ soccer coach in program history. He finished with more than 200 victories, club and sanctioned combined, and guided the Eagles to a pair of state championships: club in 2003 and sanctioned in 2016. Since soccer became a sanctioned sport Cogley’s teams have played in five state title contests, finishing runner-up in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018.
“I’ve already kind of passed up several things to keep coaching and keep this team,” Cogley said of turning down past job openings. “It’s an opportunity to go to Sioux Falls. My family is there. That’s where I grew up. I didn’t have to move out of the region, so I took the promotion.”
Assistant coach Lance Mohr will take over as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
Cogley’s legacy will live on long after he leaves the program.
“He’s helped me a lot to improve my game and become a better soccer player,” Mounga said. “I think he’s improved the program a lot for how long he’s been coaching. He’s leaving it in a good spot.”
The Eagles, 3-1 on the season, will host Pierre on Saturday at Swisher Field. And for the first time since Central started its soccer program, Cogley will not be a part of the team.
He knows he will miss game days and being around the people connected to the squad.
When asked what he will miss most, Cogley paused for a moment and responded, “Just the atmosphere. I’m a competitive person at heart. I like to compete. I like to instill that competitive nature in the kids, but just the relationships. Just sitting there with my coaches, and there was times I was kind of like reminiscing. I’m going to miss that. It’s a great community.”
Aberdeen Central 2, Brookings 0
Brookings 0 0 – 0
Aberdeen Central 0 2 – 2
First Half: no scoring.
Second Half: AC, Zee Mounga (Denon Deuter), 73rd minute; AC, Jelani Peters (Daniel Gambo Solis), 75th minute.
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