Not many teams have scored on Frederica’s junior goalkeeper John Mitchell Brock this season.
Then again, not many have shot at him either.
After Saturday night’s quarterfinal win against Augusta Prep, head coach Tim O’Sullivan called Brock a “goalkeeper at last resort.” Just this week, Brock received a nod from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and MaxPreps as the Georgia player of the week from May 10-16, making him the second Knight to earn the weekly honor after Ryan Steilen won the week of May 3-9.
Mostly, Mitchell said he sees himself as a field player who can us his hands. Essentially, Brock’s ball handling is adept enough to act as a utility sweeper for Frederica. If Frederica’s defensive backs feel pressure, they can turn and pass the Brock as a safety valve.
“That’s what coach has been trying to get me to do the past three years,” Brock said. “We’ve scored plenty of goals that start with my feet, rather than my hands. If we’re able to use me as another option, we’re always a man up.”
Matching up might be key during Frederica’s GISA state semifinal Friday morning against Heritage School at Mercer University. The Knights beat Heritage 3-0 in an early-season game during Brunswick High’s Tournament of Champions. Brock said Heritage boasts size over Frederica’s relatively small roster, which puts the Knights at a disadvantage if they can’t efficiently maintain possession or clear the ball on set pieces.
That makes Brock’s duties with his feet all the more important.
“They’re athletic and they’re big, but if we’re able to play our game, possess and find out targets on through balls, we should be OK,” Brock said.
O’Sullivan takes what Frederica saw against Heritage this seasons with a grain of salt. It was an early-season game, and Heritage since clinched the No. 1 seed from Region 1-AAA. It’s likely that the team Frederica plays Friday morning is more developed and in postseason form, O’Sullivan said.
“We don’t really spend that much time talking about opponents, especially in high school where it’s so hard to really learn anything about opponents,” O’Sullivan said. “What we really emphasized is how we can be the best we can every single day we get out here, and so far we’ve been able to do that.”
That consistent competitive spirit is evident at Frederica’s practices, which O’Sullivan said ideally should present the most adversity to effectively prepare the Knights for game situations. Even during a friendly finishing drill, goalkeepers are frantically diving and focused while one cross after another is fired on goal by a line of Frederica strikers.
“Our job as coaches is to find out how we can set up environments where they can come out and compete every day,” O’Sullivan said. “If we set up the right environments every day, they’re just having fun competing, but we’re also moving toward a goal. But everything we do is competitive, whether it’s a fun finishing game like we just did or sprinting.”
The 11 a.m. start was an effort to provide enough time for families and friends of graduating seniors to drive back to St. Simons Island for baccalaureate Friday night. The winner of Friday morning’s match will play the winner of defending champion Westminster, which eliminated Frederica in the semifinals last season, and Holy Spirit at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.