Boys Soccer: Osterholt new all-time goal scoring leader at Carroll

DAYTON – Conner Osterholt’s bid to break Carroll High School’s career goals record started before he knew anything about Alex Van Der Sluijs. It started well before he first stepped onto the Patriots' soccer field four seasons ago.

In fact, it began about eight years ago in his parents' backyard. That’s where Osterholt and his twin brother, Brandon, drilled every day. They dribbled around cones. They practiced passing. They worked on finishing goals. They juggled back and forth. And, in doing so, they helped form a potent – and record breaking – Patriots scoring attack.

“I was always looking to get better,” Conner Osterholt said. “Definitely just hard work putting in as much time as we can. … We hit the gym together. We ran around our neighborhood together. We did everything we could to make ourselves better players.”

On Oct. 8 against rival Chaminade Julienne, Brandon delivered the pass that helped Conner tie the program’s career goals record at 86. Conner established a new mark later in the 5-1 victory on a penalty kick. Van Der Sluijs, now the men’s soccer coach at Wilmington College, held the record since 2003.

“We know what each other is going to do 100 percent,” Conner Osterholt said of his connection with Brandon, who leads the Patriots with 16 assists. "We’ve always been like that because we’re so close on and off the field. We always push each other. I feel like that’s a major part of the goals I’ve gotten. He’s literally so good, too. … He’s always pushing me and motivating me.

“It means a lot that my teammates supported me and helped me get there. It was something I wanted to do since my sophomore year. That’s when I felt like my breakout year was. Doing that to help the team win means a lot.”

Osterholt has 35 goals this season (and 90 overall) following his three scores in a 4-0 win against Hamilton Badin on Tuesday. He’s one away from tying Van Der Sluijs' single-season record of 36, which Van Der Sluijs shares with 2006 grad Jeff Popella.

“They’re both exceptional players, they have skill sets that cater to them,” Carroll coach Scott Molfenter said of the Osterholts. “Brandon takes on a little more defensive responsibilities and playmaking for us. Conner is a finisher trying to find the back of the net. … He’s one of those guys who creates a lot of chances for himself and he’s got some great teammates to play with.”

Along with Brandon, a University of Indianapolis recruit, the currently uncommitted Conner credits senior teammates and long-time friends Benny Del Cid and Conner Bailey time with support and camaraderie both on and off the field. Mix in senior Daniel Irumva and the 12-2-0 Patriots have a powerful attack.

“Playing with them in the attack helps me tremendously. All the other guys, too,” Conner Osterholt said. “I’m just always hungry to score and I have really good teammates surrounding me.”

Osterholt scored four goals as a freshman, 21 as a sophomore and 30 last season. The Patriots will need more for a lengthy Division I postseason run. The competitive balance policy has Carroll playing D-I with 294 boys, making them the smallest D-I boys soccer program out of 191 in the state. As many as 41 D-II schools are larger than the Patriots, too.

Carroll earned the No. 3 seed in the North bracket and opens with West Carrollton on Monday. Centerville was voted No. 1 and Beavercreek No. 2.

“I like the challenges of D-I, playing bigger schools,” Conner Osterholt said. “I think it’s really exciting. We want to keep pushing with a state championship in mind. It’s nice to play bigger schools.”

Van Der Sluijs was in attendance when Conner Osterholt broke his record. The two text often and Van Der Sluijs was providing Osterholt encouragement as he approached the mark.

“I knew who he was since my freshman year. As soon as I got to Carroll I found out who Alex was because I saw he was the leading scorer,” Conner Osterholt said, adding Van Der Sluijs also attended one of Osterholt’s Ohio Galaxies FC practices. “He was phenomenal. He could score from anywhere.”

Added Molfenter: “I made the comment several times I didn’t think anyone would catch Alex. Credit to Conner for doing it. It was fun to watch and special to have Alex make it to the game and see it. It was a special night for our program.”

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