The boys’ soccer team will feature many new faces on the pitch this upcoming season.
One of the most pivotal moments of the upcoming boys’ soccer season may be its annual weekend-long retreat which departed for on Friday afternoon.
“That’s where we bond. We get together and I think that was honestly one of the key differences between our season last year and the season two years ago,” starting center back Ethan Blaser ’17 said. “We got to get together as a group and were able to stay tight as a group.”
Team bonding could prove to be crucial, as the team’s core last year was mostly comprised of seniors who have now graduated. The retreat could go a long way in getting the swath of new faces acclimated to varsity, as it did for Blaser.
The coaches are also big believers in its significance.
“[The retreat] is such an important part of our season, and I think it was a key element in our year last year,” Boys’ Soccer Program Head Lucas Bongarra said. “It is going to be challenging to replace the personnel and the level of [competitiveness] that we have, but I think that the boys are ready. They really took last year’s retreat as something that changed the dynamics of the team. We got closer as a team and everything they did with team building activities was made there.”
With many senior losses to fill, Bongarra knows there’s a lot to compensate for.
“What we’re trying to do is create and put a team in place that can maintain the level of competitiveness that we had last year,” Bongarra said. “So right now we’re working on different tactical schemes, and we haven’t made a decision of how we’re going to present the team on the field yet, but I guess the best way to answer the question [of how we’re going to compensate for the departure of several seniors] is with the players we have this year, which is also a very talented group. It’s a tactical adjustment we have to do based on the personnel we have.”
The generic formation for last year’s team was a fluid 4-4-2 diamond that could push for goals or stay back and defend depending on the game scenario. But with new players, Bongarra is determined to shape his tactics around strengths such as flashy touches, deception on the ball and rococo dribbles.
“We’re very excited to see the level of creativity that some of the kids have, especially Alec Katz ’19 and Theo Velaise ’17,” Bongarra said. “They have a box of trickery they like to pick things from and do which is always fun to see. I think creativity is one of the best things we have.”
Bongarra praises the focus his team as demonstrated in early-season practices.
“I think we have a great group of guys,” Bongarra said. “We are very impressed so far with the level of concentration that the boys have shown in practice.”
The team has several goals for this season.
“I think our goal is to win the [Mission] League,” Bongarra said. I think it’s a good parameter to start. Our dream is to win CIF; that’s what keeps us really hungry, but I think our goal is to win the league.”