When Glenbrook South installed an artificial turf field in its John Davis Stadium before last season, it allowed boys soccer coach Paul Agombar to slightly alter the way the Titans play.
With a surface that’s never bumpy or muddy, Glenbrook South could fully commit to a passing style in which most balls were played on the ground instead of through the air.
Last season, Agombar had a group he knew could play in that fashion, and many of the same faces return this year as the Titans feature 16 seniors on their 20-man roster.
Senior midfielder Kurt Roemer Jr. is one of the main cogs in the Titans attack, and one of the reasons Glenbrook South has been able to play the short-passing game.
“Since we got the turf, we try to pass the ball a lot more, and a lot of it goes through Kurt because he’s very, very good on the ball,” Agombar said. “He sort of keeps us ticking over and the ball moving.”
Roemer, a third-year varsity player, hardly does it alone in the center of the park as fellow seniors Kosta Brkovic and Peter Campbell help give the Titans one of the more dynamic and versatile midfields in the area.
“We’re always interchanging to try to make it difficult to mark us.” Roemer said. “We just have to keep moving the ball and playing together as a team, especially us three in the midfield.”
Brkovic said familiarity is a key to the midfield trio’s chemistry.
“Peter, Kurt and I, we can combine well. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and work off of that,” he said. “Kurt is a good player and we’ve been playing together for three years. We build the chemistry each season.”
At 5-foot-5 and 125-pounds, Roemer is usually one of the smallest players on the field. But Agombar said a lack of size has not held back his No. 10.
“He’s physical enough,” Agombar said. “He plays bigger than his size and does a good job. We have no doubt putting him into (potentially physical situations) because we know he can cope.”
In addition to getting stellar play from his midfield on most nights, Agombar also knows he can count on the trio from a leadership standpoint. Roemer, Brkovic and Campbell are three of the team’s four captains. Senior forward Luke Pilliod is the other.
“The leaders set the tone,” Agombar said. “They are good kids, they love soccer and that sets the tone for the rest of the team.”
Wearing a captain’s armband identifies Roemer as a leader on the soccer field, but his leadership qualities also are on display regularly in the hallways and classrooms at Glenbrook South.
Roemer is a leader of the school’s Interact Club, a community service organization affiliated with Rotary International, and a member of the J. Kyle Braid Leadership Foundation.
A fine student, Roemer is in the National Honor Society and Cum Laude Society and he’s currently considering the likes of Northwestern, Duke, North Carolina and Vanderbilt for college.
Before then, he’s looking to help the Titans take the next step on the pitch.
After finishing second in the CSL South the last two seasons, and getting knocked out last fall’s state playoffs in the first round by Loyola, Glenbrook South’s goals are pretty straightforward this time around.
“Last year, that’s not the way we wanted to go out,” Roemer said. “Now, we want to work harder to try to prevent that from happening again. Since sophomore year, (winning the conference) has been something that’s motivating the team. We’ve been a goal away or a game away (from the title) both years. This year, that’s a big goal for us.”