Amory’s Brendan Koehn made his mark in his two seasons on the soccer team at Itawamba Community College.
After scoring plenty of goals during his career as a Panther, Koehn finished out at ICC as the fourth-leading scorer in program history, piling up 20 goals in two seasons and helping the Indians to back-to-back postseasons. They grabbed a share of the MACJC North division title in Koehn’s freshman year but won it outright in 2018.
“Last year was a really good year of everyone on our team bonding and putting the ball in the net, and I feel like I came in prepared,” Koehn said. “I had that captain’s band, so I knew my role at ICC, that I had to be a leader and what I was getting myself into. I had more of a willingness to get to the ball than what I had before. I wasn’t afraid, and I knew where I needed to be and what I needed to do.”
Koehn, who also had four career game-winners and was an MACJC All-State selection, embraced his role as a sophomore captain and said he has always enjoyed being in a leadership position. He was also a team captain during his junior and senior years at Amory.
“I tried to be a good leader as well during my freshman year, and I have always wanted to be someone that people look up to when I’m on the field,” he said. “I like to yell and be encouraging and not condescending, and I have always loved that leadership role.”
In addition to winning the North division title, one of the other highlights for Koehn was being able to play with several of his high school teammates. Koehn, Jake Kirkpatrick, Ryan Morgan, Aaron Pressley and Austin Rowell were all sophomores, while his brother, Cameron, and Peyton Avery and Alex Box were freshmen.
“It was really cool seeing those three come in and us just have that same camaraderie that we had in high school,” Koehn said. “It wasn’t weird at all coming in the locker room on the first day because there’s seven of us that played together and grew up together.”
Koehn said being able to play one more season with his brother, Cameron, was also special.
“Right after I was told I was going to be a captain, Cameron called me and told me he wanted to play soccer at ICC. I went and talked to Coach (Mike) Sullivan, and he said he wanted him on a visit right away and had a spot for him,” Koehn said. “Cam and I have a partnership that you can’t find anywhere else and an unbeatable chemistry that not even many brothers have because we played our entire lives together. He assisted on so many of my goals in high school, and to get to turn around and do that in college is special. I think he can come in immediately next year and be a starter and be slinging the ball all over the field. He has the best field vision I have ever seen.”
Koehn said going to ICC was the best decision he has made for his soccer career, and he also enjoyed the atmosphere and camaraderie between the different athletic teams.
“Going into ICC, I was skeptical because originally going JUCO wasn’t in my plan. I realized the cost of a four-year school and how small I was, and I knew I needed JUCO,” Koehn said. “It was the best decision because of the strength I gained and the guys I met. If I had went to a four-year, I probably wouldn’t have touched the field until maybe this year, but I got to play every game at ICC. Outside of soccer, it’s awesome being friends with all the other teams, and you go watch them and they come watch you. There’s chemistry between the teams, and everyone wants to see each other do well.”
Koehn named three favorite games during his two seasons at ICC – a home playoff win against Southwest during his freshman season, a regular season win against Holmes at home and clinching the North division title at Hinds, both during his sophomore season.
“That Southwest playoff game my freshman year, we knew it would be a good game because they were coming in as one of the best teams from the South, but we didn’t know how close it would be. We put the second goal in at about the 70th minute, and it was just crazy and a great atmosphere,” Koehn said. “We had the football and basketball teams there, and it was just a special moment. We worked so hard and came out with a victory.
One of the special things about the win against Holmes for Koehn was his brother, Cameron, scoring his first collegiate goal.
“I got the assist on it, so that was really cool,” he said. “We came out and put three to four goals in during the first 30 minutes and then kept it up in the second half, and it was such a cool team effort and one of our best games we played all year. Before we won the division at Hinds, their fans and players were talking trash, and so were we, but we played out of our minds. Blowing the whistle on their field to signify that we won the division was one of the best feelings out of the whole two years.”
During the summer, Koehn has stayed busy. Between his freshman and sophomore seasons at ICC, he played in Little Rock for the Little Rock Rangers, then this summer he has played with the Mississippi Blues in Jackson.
“Last summer was so special playing with the Rangers because it blew my mind the amount of skill I saw. I was playing against old professional players and Division I athletes, and I moved to a whole new position at left back, which was somewhere I had never played before in my life,” Koehn said. “To play against those amazing guys, it redeveloped my game because I learned how important defense was in an attacking mindset. It gave me a new skill set, and when I got back to ICC playing on the wing, it helped my progress as an offensive player. This summer with the Blues has just been an atmosphere of having fun while still staying fit. I have gotten to play with a lot of my friends there.”
Koehn will continue his soccer career for the next two seasons at Belhaven and said he felt immediately comfortable on his visit last fall.
“They contacted me after our game against Hinds, and their coach said he liked the way I played and wanted me on a visit. We had talked some in high school, but I hadn’t given it much thought,” he said. “Once I got down there, I could tell how much they cared about me as a person outside of soccer, and it wasn’t even the first thing we talked about. We talked about life in general, and then we talked about how I would fit into their plans. I knew within five minutes that this was where I wanted to be and would be a lot of fun. I had never experienced that kind of connection before.”
Like at ICC, Koehn is aiming for being one of the leading goal scorers for the Blazers as well.
“I left ICC fully prepared to come into Belhaven, and I hope to make an immediate difference as a starter,” Koehn said. “I want to make my name known. I know some of the guys who also played JUCO around here will know me, but a lot of the Division III teams won’t.”
Belhaven was one win away from making the playoffs last season, and Koehn said that’s the No. 1 goal for this fall.
“I’m still trying to learn all the teams we go against, but with the team we have coming in, I think we’re going to be special,” he said. “Once we get that chemistry up, I think we can come in and win some games. The main goal is to make playoffs, but it would be good to win a couple of games in the playoffs and hopefully go on to regionals.”
Koehn and the Blazers open the 2019 season at home on Aug. 31 against LaGrange College. They have eight home games and also play at Mississippi University for Women on Sept. 19.