Karl Moehlmann decided before the 2009 season that this year would be his last coaching the Cherry Hill East boys' soccer team.
He saw promise in his freshmen that year and wanted to ride it out through their senior season.
He has had more than three years to reflect on his legacy and think about retirement. So when it finally came, Moehlmann said, he wasn't as much nostalgic as he was satisfied.
"It's been so nice to see that so many former players have been e-mailing me, congratulating me, and telling me that a lot of what I taught them on the soccer field has helped shape them into the man they are today," Moehlmann said.
For Moehlmann, this season's Inquirer Coach of the Year in South Jersey boys' soccer, sentiments such as that are largely what kept him going through 24 seasons as Cougars coach.
"As a coach, you always want to feel like what you're doing is making a difference," Moehlmann said. "So it is extremely satisfying to see these messages."
And he's equally satisfied by what the Cougars accomplished this season. There is even a feeling of vindication, he said, in knowing that he was right in his confidence in this year's team.
It was a senior class that dedicated its season to its veteran coach.
The Cougars entered the Coaches Tournament as a No. 14 seed before capturing the first outright title in Moehlmann's tenure. The only other Coaches Tournament championship that Moehlmann won was shared with Shawnee in 1989.
"After almost a decade of mostly struggling, it is a dream come true for me to have this happen in the final season," Moehlmann said. "I couldn't ask for anything better."
Cherry Hill East turned a 6-5-2 start into a 14-7-2 season. After capturing the Coaches Tournament, the Cougars won three playoff games, making it to the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals as a No. 13 seed.
"It was a great joy to see this team step up and win these games," Moehlmann said. "We accomplished a lot this year.
"As a coach, it's a great feeling."