Notre Dame's leading scorers shoot for the ultimate goal

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Notre Dame seniors Froemsdorf and Pewitt both hope to win the team scoring crown ... and the Class 2 state soccer title

Jake Pewitt's hat trick against Hillsboro earlier this season sparked a rivalry between Notre Dame's top two scorers.

Now Pewitt and Joe Froemsdorf, a pair of seniors, enter the Class 2 boys soccer final four tied with 12 goals apiece. They also both have nine assists.

"I think it's more of a silent rivalry," Pewitt said. "I didn't even pay attention to it. One of my friends told me that we were close to being tied. I was just expecting him to blow me out of the water."

The Bulldogs will face Bolivar at 11 a.m. Friday at the Anheuser-Busch Center in Fenton, Mo., in one state semifinal. The winner will play for the state title at noon Saturday at the A-B Center.

Neither Pewitt nor Froemsdorf started the season as a forward, but Notre Dame coach Brad Wittenborn decided to move the speedy Pewitt to forward before the Hillsboro game Sept. 19.

"I went to him and said, 'Jake, we're going to play some balls in behind that defense and see if you can beat them to it, and you have to promise me you'll get us a goal,'" Wittenborn said. "He said, 'Coach, I'll get you three.' He got his third one in overtime to win the game."

After that game, Froemsdorf said he wasn't going to allow Pewitt to run away with the team scoring title.

"I said something to him then and I think it all kind of started then," Froemsdorf said. "We kept it going and it kind of pushed us to score."

The two players share several classes and talk often during the day. They try to help each other improve and even have begun a friendly competition before practices.

"Pewitt and I work almost three times a week after practice, just shooting and doing different things," Froemsdorf said. "We have a little game we play before each practice, just trying to put it in the side netting."

Their pre-practice game involves shooting from outside the 18-yard box and trying to score goals by placing a shot into the netting on the side of the goal. The player with more goals into the side netting wins.

"I think it's about even," Froemsdorf said. "The last couple of days he's gotten me."

The two players score in different ways. Pewitt's greatest asset is his speed, which he uses to motor past most defenders.

"He's our fastest player," Wittenborn said. "He also has a very strong kick with both legs. If you put together what he brings, we were missing something up top earlier in the year. We didn't have quite enough speed and Jake's given us another scoring option besides Joe."

Pewitt offers a simple explanation for his ability to score.

"They basically kick it up to me, and I one-touch it in," he said. "It's pretty easy. I just run around and make the defense tired. Then my team just lobs balls in and I can touch them in."

He used his speed to deliver the game-winner in the state quarterfinal against Bishop DuBourg. He took a pass from Froemsdorf that sailed just beyond the defense then he steered the ball past the keeper.

Froemsdorf said his scoring touch is more about opportunity. He downplayed his skills, which he started honing in prekindergarten with his mother as his coach and now showcases on a club team in St. Louis.

"I think with me in the midfield, I think just pushing the ball wide and letting the crosses come in and a lot of times just picking up the trash in the middle of the field," he said. "But also playing off Pewitt and his shots and stuff like that. Just finding little opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net."

Pewitt scored the game-winner in the quarterfinals with Froemsdorf earning the assist. That came after Froemsdorf delivered in overtime in the Class 2 District 1 opener against De Soto. Pewitt, fittingly, earned an assist on that goal.

The two seniors aren't strangers to success on the soccer field. This is the third consecutive trip to the final four for both players, and they're trying to savor the experience more as seniors.

"I probably won't be as nervous as I probably should be," Pewitt said. "I've been trying to enjoy it a little more. I also want it more. It's more of a having more fun winning type of thing."

Part of their past experience is providing the motivation for this year's final four run.

"I was close to the seniors last year," Froemsdorf said. "Seeing the emotion they showed after the loss [in the Class 2 state semifinals], you don't want to have that as a senior. You really want to step up and do good at the final four."

And chances are that if Notre Dame advances into the state title game, the two seniors with the friendly rivalry will be a major reason for the success.

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