Returning players look to win league

Returning players look to win league

Striking a Pose: Gabriel Palacios ’20 leans in for a strike Dec. 5 on Ted Slavin Field against Crespi Carmerlite High School. Harvard-Westlake won the game to advance to a record of 4-1-1 with star Pablo Greenlee ’20 scoring two goals in the game. Photo credit: Ryan Albert/Chronicle

Boys’ soccer is currently 3-0-1 as of press time  and looks to bounce back from placing second overall in the Mission League last season. The team finished 9-9-2 overall, losing to Warren High School 1-0 in the first round of the CIF playoffs Feb. 16.

“In past years, we’ve had the problem of playing to the level of our opponents, so this year it’s important we play our game and our style no matter who we’re playing,” goalkeeper Charlie Mendes ’19 said.

The squad started this season strong, shutting out Agoura High School 5-0 in the first game of the season Nov. 27, Beverly Hills High School 5-0 Nov. 30 in the following game and Crespi Carmelite High School 2-0 Dec. 5. Midfielder Connor Quinn Colao ’21 scored two goals in the first half of the win against Agoura and midfielder Alec Katz ’19 finished with a hat-trick, scoring three of the five goals for the Wolverines in the game against Beverly Hills. Defender Pablo Greenlee ’20 scored both goals in the second half in the win against Crespi.

Midfielder Henry Sanderson ’20 said that he believes beating Agoura set the tone for the rest of the season.

“It builds our confidence and gives us a boost into the regular season with electricity and power,” Sanderson said. “It creates a nice feeling for the whole team.”

This year’s squad consists of seven seniors, six juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen. Despite the loss of eight seniors from last season, the team is still very experienced, as 14 of the 20 players on the team are returning to play again this season. Many of the returning players including midfielder Finn Gatins ’20 and Greenlee said they believe this experience will help the team win more of the games that they weren’t able to win last year.

Program head Kris Ward said that he believes the team has the potential to win the Mission League and even a CIF Championship behind the senior leadership.

“Our seniors occupy crucial roles in each unit within our team,” Ward said. “Mendes and [Eli Yadidi ’19] are both exceptional [goalkeepers] and the backbone of our team. [Maclean Witmer ’19], [Alex Schindler ’19] and [Nick Barnouw ’19] are all rock solid defenders. [Asher Vogel ’19] and [Katz ] are able to control games in midfield as well as score goals, so our seniors are extremely important to our success both on and off the field.”

On Friday and Saturday, Mendes said that the team was able to bond by staying the night in a hotel together for the Santa Barbara College Cup Showcase Tournament and going to the NCAA Final Four games.

“It’s been hard [to bond] especially with a lot of kids coming straight from club but we’re already a close group of guys,” Mendes said. “Plus, we will have our team retreat and tournament down in Oceanside right after Christmas.”

In the first game of the tournament, Katz scored the team’s only goal in the 1-1 tie with Dos Pueblos High School on Friday. On Saturday, the Wolverines lost to Capo Valley High School 1-0 and beat Moorpark High School 3-0 to finish with a 1-1-1 record at the tournament.

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