The determined look in Chad Rigg's eyes is the culmination of an entire offseason to think about what could have been for Lake Central.
Last season's 1-0 loss to Zionsville in the state semifinals was certainly a heartbreaking end to a special season. As disappointing as it was, however, it was the exact fuel Rigg needed to come back with one goal this season: helping take his team back to state and winning that coveted championship.
"It hurt a lot, but I think it helped us, too, because we only had three seniors last year," Rigg said. "We're almost the same team. I think, in our minds, we can go back down and win the state title this year."
That will all start up front, as Rigg will return to his familiar forward position after playing mostly midfield last season. Rigg's unselfish play was a key reason he led the Indians in assists (10) last season. However, Rigg simply isn't concerned with his personal statistics.
"As long as we win, I don't care how the goals and assists work out," said Rigg, who is currently playing with a broken left arm suffered while playing soccer. "We've got a great team to support me."
Lake Central coach Jereme Rainwater has seen Rigg blossom into an extremely dangerous player on the offensive side of the ball. With the loss of Eppokrates Litos to graduation last season, Rainwater knew plugging Rigg up top was a no-brainer -- especially teamed with another scoring threat in Manny Rios.
"We expect a lot of team's main focus is going to be Chad, and how they can prevent him from (scoring)," Rainwater said. "What I expect from him is not to do too much. We expect him to create for other players at times, and when he gets his opportunity, make sure he's efficient. Everyone kind of feeds off what he does. To say he goes 110 percent in practice is a disservice to him."
Rigg, who started playing soccer when he was 3 years old, has received world-class instruction from the Chicago Fire Juniors ever since he was 14. Rigg believes that gives him a leg up against high school competition that doesn't have the same opportunity he's had.
"It makes me a lot better," said Rigg, who will play collegiately at Butler next year. "It helps me play quicker and know what I'm going to do before I get the ball. I'm not the fastest or the strongest guy, so knowing what I'm going to do (beforehand) helps a lot."