VALPARAISO — Jack Isroff has been a luxury for coach Mike Enghofer, who has been trying to build the Valparaiso boys’ football culture for the past three seasons.
The senior striker is certainly talented but also possesses many of the intangible qualities that coaches covet.
“If I could build a kid in a lab and say, ‘I’m going to start my program around these types of guys,’ you couldn’t have created a better player in terms of leadership and production, but also other things that nobody will have see,” said Enghofer. “The way he can lift a workout on a day off or pick someone up while he’s at it, everything about him is what you’re looking for.”
Isroff is the Times Player of the Year after scoring 25 goals and providing 14 assists this season. Both totals led the Duneland Athletic Conference. It’s rare for a single person to chair any of the state’s power conferences in either statistic. Isroff was a shoe-in for the league’s Player of the Year. He was also named a First Team All-State by the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association.
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“If you’d told me a few years ago that I was going to be MVP or conference all-state, I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” Isroff said. “To be honest, I’d probably tell you to shut up.”
Isroff played at that level despite being man-marked by virtually every single team the Vikings played for at least a portion of the game. He was so in the focus of opponents that sometimes Enghofer actually called him to the touchline and faked a conversation just to see if an opposing defender would follow him.
That kind of gameplay was exactly how Isroff needed to go about it. Sometimes that meant passing first.
“I tried to make my game as unpredictable as possible. Maybe I would trust my teammates a little more in the first half, but once the game opened up it would give me the time and space to score,” he said. “I know I can do more than score. I’m a playmaker. I know that I can produce for others.”
Isroff, a four-year-old varsity player, improved in green and white every season. His goal totals went from 14 to 16 to 22 to 25 while his assists were two, nine, 13 and 14.
Enghofer attributes some of that growth to the forward’s pride and passion. He said Isroff never became complacent and always found ways to motivate himself.
“His progression in our program is a result of his work ethic, his desire to be good and just because he enjoyed it,” said Enghofer. “He kept getting better and I think that’s scary for his next place. I don’t think he’s done. He could still have his best days ahead of him.”
However, Isroff was more than just a statistics collector. The Vikings lost most of their lead when the Class of 2022 graduated. He’s taken on that role in a big way.
“Analytically I can say I have 25 goals and 14 assists to replace but there are all these immeasurable things. How do I replace this? When I can’t get anything out of my guys, Jack is there and motivates them in a way that I can’t because he has their pulse,” Enghofer said. “Some of his personality and some of his way of carrying himself will stay here, but he won’t be him.”
The Vikings had a disappointing season by their standards, finishing 10-8-1. Most of these losses went to teams from outside the region, but the most recent was a 3–2 semifinal against Portage.
Postseason trophies have eluded Valparaiso since 2012. It’s a regret Isroff has from his high school career.
“I really wish the season had gone differently. I feel like we lost a lot of games that we should have won, which I think would have gone differently on another day,” he said. “I think we fell a bit short but overall I think it’s been another successful season. People still know who we are and what we want to achieve. You just have to prepare for next year and get that section title.”
While the Vikings try, Isroff will play for Gustavus Adolphus. Minnesota’s Division III program finished the regular season ranked 5th in the country and was scheduled to play with the final eight teams of the national tournament beginning November 15.
Golden Gusties coaches believe Isroff will have a chance to see the pitch early, which is important to him. They also offered an attractive financial package. He will study sports management or sports psychology and consider a future as a sports psychologist, agent or coach.
Whatever his future holds, Isroff leaves Valparaiso as one of the best attackers of all time.
“I think I could have done a little bit better, but that’s what drives me,” he said. “I think I had a good last season which I will definitely remember.”
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Lake Central’s Miller Knestrict (11) and Craig Rusin (10) celebrate Rusin’s goal that leads Lake Central 2-1 ahead of Valparaiso at Lake Central…
Lake Central goalie Jacob Chraca (0) makes a save with Valparaiso’s Jack Isroff (7) in the first half at Lake Central High School in St. John…
Lake Central’s Miller Knestrict (11) and Valparaiso’s Max Johnson (10) shoot in the first half at Lake Central High School in S…
Valparaiso’s Colin Devine (3) and Lake Central’s Miller Knestrict (11) shoot in the first half at Lake Central High School in S…
Lake Central’s Eryk Ramirez (13) throws in against Valparaiso in the first half at Lake Central High School in St. John on Wednesday night.
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Valparaiso’s Ethan Brubaker (8) deflects the ball in the first half at Lake Central High School in…