Boys soccer shoots for success with evolving team

The+varsity+boys+soccer+team+prepares+for+an+upcoming+game+through+tactical+work+at+practice+after+school+on+May+10.+%28Haley+Oeur%29

Haley Oeur

The varsity boys soccer team prepares for an upcoming game through tactical work at practice after school on May 10. (Haley Oeur)

Haley Oeur, Copy Editor

Balls fly back and forth, the spinning black-and-white blurs whizzing across the green turf, kicked from player to player in a complex series of drills and movements until they reach their final destination: the netted backing of the goalpost.

With district semifinals beginning May 17, varsity boys soccer players of all ages strive to finish with consistency. Being dependable in game is a goal of many on the team, as playing effectively in one’s position can be an important factor to a cooperative team dynamic.

“My personal goal is to just get my game up, to be able to compete at the level consistently,” sophomore Fernando Umpierre said. “I just want to make sure [my team] can count on me and they don’t have to worry about the goalkeeper.”

We did bring people up from JV, and that impacted the team because there’s more people that the seniors have to be in charge of. It’s also good because it helps the juniors and underclassmen with their potential in soccer.”

— junior left wingback and left back Simon Lee

One challenge to the consistency of the team has been the prevalence of injuries this season in the varsity team, resulting in younger players from the JV team being brought up to a new level of competition. Last season, the team was entirely juniors and seniors, with the exception of one sophomore. This season, the team has three sophomores and a freshman.

“We did bring people up from JV, and that impacted the team because there’s more people that the seniors have to be in charge of,” junior left wingback and left back Simon Lee said. “It’s also good because it helps the juniors and underclassmen with their potential in soccer.”

These injuries have allowed new talent to develop at a younger age alongside varsity experience. This year, both of the team’s goalies are underclassmen, a phenomenon unprecedented for a varsity team normally dominated by experienced seniors and juniors.

“So far, we’re not having a great season, but when we get to our second half of the season, with a lot of away games, I just want us to compete more and then try to get results,” senior captain winger and striker Andrew Jung said.

With the team’s performance resulting in multiple losses, the team sometimes struggles to keep an attitude of positivity and perseverance.

“I don’t think we have the desire to win anymore since we are so comfortable with losing,” Lee said. “I think we have to get into the mentality of like, ‘we’re not losers, we have to be winners.’ I would say losing is more like a lesson to be learned, but since we’re not learning that lesson, it’s hard to become successful in soccer.”

To combat any strategic stagnation, the team has changed up their 4-4-2 (four defenders, four midfielders, two attackers) formation from last year, first to a 3-5-2 formation, and then to a 4-5-1 formation. Captains this season have also been very active in guiding every player, creating a more cohesive, goal-oriented team environment, according to Lee.

“I just try to lead by example,” Jung said. “I don’t want to be telling people to do stuff that I don’t. If you’re the guy who’s not being consistent, playing bad, then I don’t think it really gives you the right to try to tell people what to do.”

The varsity team hopes to beat rivals Westfield High School and Centreville High School in the upcoming district playoffs. Their next game is on April 28 against James Madison High School.

“The seniors and the juniors really take us under their wing and they try to help us out and keep our heads up and help us progress,” Umpierre said. “I mean, even from the start of the season till now I feel like I’ve gotten better because of them—because they keep me going.”