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Soccer: Buss Era begins with bus error

A group of mostly untested varsity soccer players and their first-year coach loaded on to the Farmington team bus Thursday for a long road trip that would bring them to Winona for a season-opening game against an experienced Winhawks team that went 10-5-1 last year and was playing its first game on a new turf field.

A tough situation was made tougher when the bus broke down halfway through the trip. The Tigers arrived late, were rushed through warm-ups and proceeded to drop an 8-0 decision to the Winhawks in their first game under new head coach Julian Buss.

"Stressful. That is the best word to describe the trip to Winona," Buss said. "The bus breaks down. We get lost coming into town. The clock is running as soon as we step off the bus.... Meanwhile, over half of my squad is seeing either their first game or their first minutes of varsity. We were not in a very comfortable position to start the game."

The Tigers stayed within 2-0 at halftime, but were outscored 6-0 after the break. Buss said the first game was a success in the sense that it gave his inexperienced team a chance to get its feet wet and see what varsity soccer is all about.

"The boys gained experience and got the first game under the lights out of the way," he said. "This FHS team is full of quick learners and physically and mentally tough athletes, and I believe that each game's experience will benefit us greatly. We are a team that is still learning -- and some of that learning will come on game night."

The Tigers trailed 3-0 by halftime of Saturday's game at Owatonna, but Buss said there was noticeable improvement in how his team moved the ball and created scoring chances.

"I felt like we played much better as a team and we were improving on the things we practiced such as finding ways to get the ball up the field, giving our forwards opportunities to take shots on net," he said. "Unfortunately, none of them seemed to find their way in."

The Tigers got on the board for the first time in 2009 when Justin Thelen drew contact in the penalty area in the 55th minute and easily made the ensuing penalty kick.

Derian Vietti allowed all eight goals, but Buss said he played very well in a game where he saw a lot of action.

The Tigers opened their Missota Conference schedule Tuesday with their first home game at the new Tiger Stadium against New Prague. They will participate in the Rochester Tournament today and Friday before resuming league play next Thursday against Shakopee.