“Keeping” Up with Spartans Bohnlein and Cohron
Sometimes, two heads really are better than one. Or, in the case of the South Warren boys’ soccer team, two sets of gloved hands are better than one.
South Warren has thrived this season and advanced to the 4th Region Tournament largely because of the two-headed monster it has at the important goalkeeper position: junior Michael Bohnlein and sophomore Alex Cohron. With those two sharing time in goal, the Spartans have fashioned a record of 11-6-4 heading into the regional tournament and have recorded 10 shutouts. Before the 5-0 loss to Bowling Green in the 14th District championship game, SWHS had allowed only 19 goals in 20 matches.
While the success is at least partly due to the play of other Spartan defenders, SWHS coach Tom Alexander says Bohnlein and Cohron have played big roles.
“Both of them do a tremendous job,” Alexander says. “They push each other everyday in practice. Their goal is to make each other better. We have two of the best goalkeepers in the region, and it’s because they keep pushing each other.”
If there’s competition between the two, it’s friendly competition, says Cohron.
“During practice we push each other,” he says, “but we’ve been friends throughout. It drives us to be better keepers, and I think that shows during the games. I think that has been a big part of our success this year.”
The advantage of having two quality goalkeepers was never more evident than during the September 10 match at Bowling Green. The Spartans beat the Purples for the first time, and Bohnlein and Cohron played big roles when the contest went to penalty kicks after a scoreless regulation. Each made two saves on penalty kicks as South Warren prevailed 7-6 on PKs.
“Coach (Alexander) told us at the beginning of the season that if a game came down to penalty kicks we’d use two goalkeepers to mess with the other team,” Bohnlein recalls. “Most players watch the opposing goalkeeper and usually have an idea about where he will go. Switching up kinda messes with them.”
“It (switching goalkeepers) worked out well for us the first time,” says Alexander. “Michael is a great goalkeeper, and he had that whole game. Alex has a bulldog mentality that he’s going to get the save. He made a couple of big saves for us on PKs. They’re both really good at what they do. When we practice penalty kicks they rotate, so we do the same thing in a real game.”
Saving penalty kicks, though, isn’t the only role for Bohnlein and Cohron on this Spartan team. Both take pride in being leaders of the defense, helping players get to the right position. Sometimes, that means being vocal.
“I try to get them where they’re supposed to be,” Bohnlein says. “I try to anticipate where I think the ball will go. If they don’t do what I say, I just yell at them louder.”
“I think that’s one of our best qualities as a pair – being vocal keepers,” Cohron explains. “Sorting out the defense isn’t always easy. We see the whole field, so it’s our job to tell the defense where to be. If we don’t, we fail the team.”
Bohnlein and Cohron haven’t often failed the team this season, even against the high-caliber competition found in this part of the state, and that’s a big reason why the Spartans are serious contenders in the regional tournament.
“Playing small schools that barely have a soccer program doesn’t make us any better,” says Cohron. “Playing teams like Bowling Green and Warren Central that come down to the wire makes us realize we have to get better and realize our full potential.”
The Spartans are inching closer to realizing their potential, says coach Alexander.
“Our goal every year is to get out of our district and make a run at region,” he says. “If we can get out of the region, we’ll roll the dice and make a run at state. We’re getting closer. I hope we can put it together at the right time. We have four teams in our district ranked in the top 40 in the state. If we can get out of the district and region, I feel like we can compete with anyone.”