Amil Akiti was a huge asset to a growing Clinton boys soccer team.
“He’s the biggest talker, he’s a senior, he’s a captain and he’s all over the field,” coach Matt Hagge said about one of his seniors. “He’s coachable, he’s aggressive and he can be humble at times. He’s just a nice kid and he gives 100 percent all of the time.”
The speedy Clinton soccer player took his talents to the field one last time on Monday night, ending his tumultuous last season on a high note with a header goal in the final minute of the game.
He did a little bit of everything, especially this year. The senior was a beacon of leadership for a youth laden River King squad. He was one of just two seniors, using his experience and talent to try to lead.
“It’s a lot of leadership,” Akiti said. during the later half of the season. “A lot of these kids have been playing together since they were younger but now at the varsity level, they don’t know the intensity of MAC soccer.”
He was constantly chattering from the back line. He called out directions, instruction, reminders and encouragement to his teammates, consisting mostly of freshman and sophomores. It made his position on the field especially important. He had an eye on the entire field from where he played.
“I think my IQ for the game is pretty good,” Akiti said. “I can see where the forwards should go or when the mids should make a run. I’ve played there my whole life.”
“The guys listen to me, they know. It comes with practice.”
It’s on-field help that will certainly be missed, and a new role he accepted this season as a senior.
“Last year [junior year] I just played my role and played my position,” Akiti said. “But we graduated almost our whole starting lineup last year.
“We had a big senior class last year. I watched how they played and took over. Brennen Lemke was always a great leader and talked good, and I said that was going to be me this year.”
It definitely had to be frustrating at times. The River Kings ended with just three wins this season although they made a case for themselves in their regional against Davenport North.
“I have to keep a cool head although it’s easy to want to lash out and get them hyped up,” Akiti said. “I have to keep them cooled down. I have to keep the whole back line and whole mid in check.”
His mental help and experience was one thing, but Akiti was a huge help physically. He was exceptionally fast and had fantastic ball control, which helped him make decisions in the backline that helped the forwards.
Part of what he worked on throughout high school was being fast. Also a football player, he’s really focused on his footwork and how that can get him from Point A to Point B fast than his opponents, and it was noticeable.
“It comes with football,” Akiti said. “It’s my quick cutting and playing aggressive. The MAC is aggressive, top teams in the state. We try to stay physical because we’re a lot smaller in size.”
Plus he likes a challenge. His favorite part of soccer was how everything can come down to whoever makes a mistake first. Their close loss in regionals was a great example of that. Although they lost to North 9-1 earlier in the season, they were right with them the majority of the game.
“My favorite part is the whole feeling of it coming down to just one goal,” Akiti said. “No one wants to go to overtime, but [you have] the adrenaline running through you.”
His help was definitely noticed and appreciated by his younger teammates, who got progressively better as the season went on. Even though Akiti won’t be back on the River King roster next year, he says he’s looking forward to coming back to Coan Field to see what the younger athletes are going to accomplish in the next few years.
“The younger kids are doing well filling in roles,” Akiti said. “The next few years should be pretty good.”