By Alex Leichenger
With the return of forward/midfielder Victor Kroh â10 and a year of added experience, boysâ soccer coach Freddy Arroyo believes his team is capable of advancing to the final four of CIF playoffs.
Kroh was unable to play for the Wolverines last year because of his commitment to Real SoCal, a branch of the United Soccer Federationâs Academy program.
“Weâre really excited about him coming back because heâs a playmakerâhe can create, he can score, and heâs an exciting player to watch,” Arroyo said.
The team was eliminated in the first round of CIF last year by St. John Bosco. They won seven of 12 league games, while tying four and losing only to St. Francis.
Arroyo considers St. Francis and Loyola, whom the Wolverines tied once and defeated once, to be the teamâs toughest opponents. Although Kroh, 2009 All-CIF goalie Alex Silverman â10, and sweeper A.J. Hong â10 are entrenched as starters, Arroyo said most of the 11 starting spots remain undetermined.
“On paper, weâre probably one of the best teams in the area,” Arroyo said. “Obviously we have to put in the hard work and the effort on the field, but I have high expectations. And I think everybody on the team was a little bit disappointed by how we went out last year in the first round.”
Silverman believes the combination of talent and camaraderie amongst the players is better than at any other point in his four-year varsity career.
“In past years, weâve had either groups of guys that get along really well, but werenât the best players, and then I think even last year, we had a very talented team but we werenât that cohesive,” Silverman said. “I think this year, our strengths are really just how well weâre friends off the field and how that translates on the field and to winning games.”
Silverman and Arroyo hope that the team, which relied heavily on the defense at times last season, will have a more explosive offensive attack.
“With the addition of Victor, and we really didnât lose any guys, I think itâs going to be a shift to a more balanced team between a great offense and great defense,” Silverman said.
Arroyo does not think the success of girlsâ soccer, which was the 2009 Southern California Regional State Champion, or the success of the two other high-powered winter teams, boysâ and girlsâ basketball, will add pressure to boysâ soccer.
“We kind of like that underdog, you know, under-the-radar kind of thing,” Arroyo said. “I think itâs great for us. We know that we have talent and we know that we can compete.”
Boysâ soccer will play its first scrimmage on Nov. 24.