The new head coach of the Ankeny boys’ soccer team is already familiar with the Central Iowa Metropolitan League.
Jordan Burns, a native of Scotland, spent the last three years as an assistant for Des Moines Roosevelt boys’ coach Sean Holmes. Prior to that, he was a volunteer assistant for Waukee girls’ coach Tony Gabriel for two years.
Burns has replaced Brian Duax, who moved across town to take over the Ankeny Centennial program.
“I applied for the job, and I was fortunate enough to get it,” Burns said. “The biggest challenge I’ve faced is just getting used to the new kids and meeting new people.”
Ankeny posted an 8-11 record last year, including a 2-3 mark in the CIML Central Conference. The Hawks boast 11 returning all-conference players who were all members of the 2016 team that qualified for the Class 3A state tournament.
“We’ve got a huge returning class,” Burns said. “We’ve definitely got an established group who know each other, and they’ve played with each other at the club level as well. They seem like they’re good friends, so we’ve got a good team bond to start out with.”
Senior Jack Christmann is back along with juniors Kolby Raineri and Riley Wood. They were all named to the Central Conference second team a year ago.
Raineri scored six goals and had a team-high six assists as a sophomore. Wood contributed three goals, two of them in the Hawks’ 2-1 victory over Centennial.
Among the team’s other returnees are seniors Spencer Anderson, Caleb Davis, Peter Gaspari, Dayne Kajewski, Jack Nurre and Hunter Wiebel, and juniors Charlie Pritchard and Zach Young. They each received all-conference honorable mention last season.
Gaspari led the Hawks with seven goals and also had three assists. Wiebel chipped in four goals, Pritchard had three goals and three assists, and Kajewski added three goals.
“It’s a little bit early to know what our strengths will be, but I know I’ve got a lot of technical players,” Burns said. “A lot of the guys are comfortable on the ball and like to move the ball, so that’s a big positive for me.”
Young will provide a lot of experience at the goalkeeper position. He racked up more than 100 saves last season, when he recorded five shutouts.
Burns said he expects to learn more about his team during Monday’s tryouts.
“It’s a great group of lads, and I’ve really enjoyed working with them thus far,” he said. “Obviously, this has been the first week I’ve actually been able to coach and to give them some feedback. We’ve just been doing some open gyms, and the boys have been working in the weight room to try to get bigger, stronger and faster in the offseason. I’m really looking forward to the tryouts and moving forward to the rest of the season.”
Ankeny will open its season with three games at the Iowa City West Invitational on March 30-31. The Hawks will face Iowa City High and Muscatine before playing defending Class 3A state champion Iowa City West.
“Everything’s going to come fast,” Burns said. “It’s going to be a good challenge for me and my growth as a coach to get to know these players a little better over the next couple of weeks. I’ve definitely got my style of soccer that I like to play, but I’ll definitely analyze what type of players I’ve got and try to incorporate that into my style of soccer.”
Ankeny will be looking to end its season at Cownie Soccer Park for the second time in three years. The state tournament will be held on May 31-June 2.
“We’ll set some short-term goals and some long-term goals and some goals throughout the season that we can try to attack,” Burns said. “The short-term goals will be the key to making the long-term goals successful.”