Despite some woes in the past, Muncie Central's 2023 season has been a strong one through 12 games. Notching ten wins on the season following their 10-0 win over Daleville Wednesday, the Bearcats have already exceeded their win total from last season and have the most since 2015.
There have been many keys to their success this year, and Bearcats head coach Shea Hill said it starts with the seniors.
“That group of seniors [came] in and gave us some consistency starting with freshman year,” he said. “They’ve done a really good job continuing over those four years to get better each year, and it’s just been continuous growth.”
Hill also spoke on how the leadership of the seniors has contributed on the field, but also how they’ve developed into mentors off of it.
“It’d be really easy to not know who’s supposed to step up and who’s supposed to lead, but they’ve done a really good job of knowing they don’t have to have a captain band on their arm to be a leader,” Hill said.
Two of those senior leaders, Finn Gruver, who leads the Bearcats in total goals on the year (10), and Ezra Fuller, who leads in assists (11), have been through some ups and downs in their time as Bearcats. But the pair are happy to see the success they have helped bring to the program.
“It’s awesome because it’s been four years in the making,” Fuller said. “It’s just been building for the last four years and then we’re finally hitting that peak.”
The success Muncie Central has had on the field this season is moved not only by their communication on the field, but also by their connectivity off of it.
Having such a tight-knit group has helped the Bearcats throughout the season. Led by a group of 12 seniors who have gone through this program together, the communication factor plays a major role in their success, Gruver said.
The Bearcats find themselves in prime position to compete for a North Central Conference title. So far this year, Muncie Central is 4-1 in conference play, with their lone loss coming against Anderson by a score of 2-1.
“We still got our future in our own hands. This Saturday is a huge day,” Hill said.
The Bearcats are sandwiched between the two conference juggernauts of Harrison (10-0) and McCutcheon (6-4-1) in the current standings. They look to lean on their senior leadership to push them over the edge this weekend.
“It’s pretty dang cool and I feel like we deserve it 100 percent,” Fuller said. “Harrison is in that race with us and they’ll be a tough opponent. [They’re] probably the toughest we’ve seen this season but we’re prepared for it.”
Hill admitted the challenges that lie ahead of the Bearcats seem daunting, but they still have their eyes on bigger goals.
“It’s a massive task that’s in front of us,” he said. “It’s a great time to see it because [the teams] waiting in sectionals for us are Pendleton (9-2-1), Fishers (7-2-4), and [Hamilton] Southeastern (7-5-2),”
Despite the Bearcats' struggles in the past, they are looking towards the future, and hoping to continue the program on an upward trajectory. Their win against Daleville was a dominant one, but they now turn their eyes to Saturday for their doubleheader matchup with Harrison and McCutcheon.
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